Readings for Monday May 23, 2011
First Reading: Acts 14:5-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 115
Gospel: John 14:21-26
When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they cried out in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in human form.” They called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes,” because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.
The Apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their garments when they heard this and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, “Men, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways; yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts.” Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them. (Acts 14:11-18)
My daughter is just over two years old, and like most two year olds, she is very curious about everything. She makes her rounds around the house, seeing what is in this box, what she can reach on this shelf, what is inside that cabinet. She is actually quite relentless when it comes to getting into things. My wife and I must make sure that nothing fragile or dangerous is left out, otherwise it may suffering the consequences of getting into my little toddler's hands. While at times her energy level is really a delight, there are also many times where it is quite challenging. When dealing with this energy and curiosity, I really have two choices. I can try and constrain her and break her spirit; or I can try and redirect her energy towards better things.
It is the same choice that each one of us faces in our lives. We all have passions, desires, and tendencies. Some are good, some are bad, and some just simply need redirected. A person's leadership ability can either lead those around him toward good things, or away from the goodness of the Lord. A person's love of talking and communicating with others can either be used to hurt someone by gossiping, or by using words of encouragement and hope. God gives each one of us gifts and abilities, and the question is are we using them for His purposes, or for our own.
The people of Lystra that Paul and Barnabas spoke to in today's first reading were not wrong in celebrating the miracle that God brought to them. However, their energies should have been redirected toward praising the one true God, instead of praising their gods. This is why Paul and Barnabas were so upset, while their intentions were good, their means were not. If our energies are not directed toward serving and praising Christ, then our energies are misdirected, and must be redirected and set on Jesus.
We are all God's children, and like most children, we lose focus, and many times we must be redirected towards the things that are truly the most important.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with. Lord, you are our Saviour and our King, help us to always keep you in our minds and our hearts. Lord, redirect us towards you during those times were we lose our focus and our way. We pray for all those who have fallen away from the Church, may they be brought back to your love and to your great mercy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.