Thursday, July 25, 2019, Feast of St. James the Apostle
Share the Faith
First Reading Commentary: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Paul starts today’s first reading by saying that he and the Apostles hold treasures but they are earthen vessels. What he means is that they are fragile human-beings but they hold the treasure of the Gospel and that they have been sent to proclaim the Word of the Gospel which comes from God and not from them.
He says that even though they are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down, they are not constrained, driven to despair, abandoned or destroyed. Paul is making it clear that he and the Apostles are totally committed to spreading the Word and that they cannot and will not be stopped because God will not abandon them. By making such a strong statement, Paul is proclaiming his faith in God and he seems to be daring anyone to try and stop him.
What is stronger? Is it our human body or is it our faith? If we fail to make God number one in our lives, our actions will say that our faith is weaker. But the physical body will die where our faith will lead us to eternal life in heaven. Paul put it this way, “For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
Paul tells us that death is at work in us but we all have the same spirit of faith. When we consider this thought, we have to look beyond the physical. Every one of us will stop breathing and die one day. That is unavoidable. Our life here on earth is only temporary. That does not mean that we should not take care of our bodies—we should take care of them if for no other reason; than because God expects us to be good stewards of everything that He gave us, which includes our bodies.
But as we take care of ourselves physically, we must not forget to take care of ourselves spiritually. Paul tells us that, “…the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.” Again, Paul is proclaiming his faith and he is placing hope in our faith. He is saying that he believes that he will be raised with Jesus in heaven on the last day and that we will be with him. In a sense, Paul is interceding for us without us even having to ask. We should thank Paul because he knew that everyone is in the need of prayer. When is the last time you prayed for those who have no one else to pray for them?
Paul reminds us that he and the Apostles came to serve when he says, “Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.” This is more than a reminder.
Paul is telling us that there is an over-abundance of grace which has been bestowed on him for which he is thankful and gives glory to God. The more people that he can share his faith with, the more people will also have God’s grace because of their faith and they can also give glory to God. Paul is telling us that when we share our faith, even more people will be filled with faith who can give glory to God.
We must not be afraid to share our faith. We never know when, where, how or through whom God will speak to us. That said, it is very possible that God will use us to speak to someone else and we may not even know it. Whether we know it or not, when God uses us, something that we say will plant a seed which will make the faith within the one we are speaking to grow.
We should not be stingy with our faith. Rather, we should share our faith so that those whom we share it with can in turn share their faith with others. We should not be stingy with our faith because there is more than enough grace to go around—enough for everybody that wants it.
Called to Serve
Gospel Commentary: Matthew 20:20-28
The mother of Zebedee’s sons, James and John, wanted Jesus to command that her sons be seated next to Him in the Kingdom, one on His right and the other on His left. Jesus replied, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said, “We can.”
They really had no idea what they were asking because Jesus was speaking of going to the cross for our salvation. So, Jesus said, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
The chalice that James and John would drink was the consecrated wine—the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. But the throne was another matter. Jesus always yielded to the Father showing complete humility. We learn from this and every incident where Jesus demonstrates His humility; that we cannot be like God if we are stuck up with pride.
But there is more to the chalice. Consider the words that Jesus used, “that I am going to drink.” Again, Jesus was talking about His going to the cross. Jesus was telling them that they would become martyrs for their faith.
Have you ever met someone whose greatness as a person just radiates because of their humility? There are so few people in this world who; fit that description that the question almost does not make sense. But that was Christ! A couple of people immediately come to mind who, had such humility, were great people and became famous. Mary is first and foremost of course. I also think of Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Pope, Francis. You may think of others but there are not many.
The other ten disciples became indignant at the two brothers so Jesus summoned them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them…But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant…the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
God knows that we all have an ego and that is not a bad thing. It can’t be a bad thing because we should feel good about ourselves and God wants us to. But we must be on alert because if we allow our ego to stand in the way of our humility, we will fall into the sin of pride. So, this is just one time of many that Jesus took the time to explain to the disciples and to us how important humility is.