Acts 14:5-18; Ps 115:1-4,15,16; Jn 14:21-26
How often have you heard it said, “God made man in his image and likeness and since then man has returned the favor?” The gods we make in our own image and likeness, the handiwork of men, demand glory from the children of men. Indeed, we become what we love; we become what we worship. We are enslaved by our idols. The works of our hands and our heads, they demand glory and great sacrifice, but since they are no god-at-all, they have nothing to offer us. Rather it is the LORD God alone who is full of mercy and truth who has made heaven and earth, the seas and all who dwell in them. All that he has made has been given to us, but this is not our treasure, our priceless pearl. The LORD God has given himself to us in Christ, in his broken body and poured out blood. The LORD God has given himself to us in the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whose hidden ministry enables us to cry out “Abba” Father. To his Name we give the glory and not to ourselves do we give the glory. Even when the pagans demand us to reveal, to prove, his mercy and his truth; even when the pagans ridicule us with their question, “Where is your God?” The pagans in every age still assert, “seeing is believing.” Still, they do not know that believing is seeing.
No rejection, no hatred, could keep Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas from continuing to proclaim the Good News. Even though they had to flee from city to city, they continued to preach the same message that got them into trouble in their previous venue. Like the Master, signs and wonders accompanied their preaching. At Lystra a man crippled from birth, who had never walked, was deeply touched by Saint Paul’s preaching. In his intense gaze the Apostle was able to discern a faith that was open to healing. Saint Paul did not hesitate to command this man lame from birth to “stand up straight on your feet.” This cripple jumped up and began to walk about! When the pagans of that time saw this they tried to worship this obviously divine power. They were convinced, from the evidence of their senses that these preachers were gods come down to men. Even the priest of Zeus came with oxen to sacrifice and garlands to adorn their new gods. Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas set an example for all who impress the crowds, with their message or their signs and wonders. Would that we contemporary apostles flee the adoration of the crowds and restrain them from giving us worship and glory. Would that we would cry out with the apostles who prayed Psalm II, “Not to us,O LORD, but to your name give glory!”
We don’t hear much from Judas, not the Iscariot, who is sometimes called Saint Jude. Yet, his question in today’s Gospel is the question of the apostle in every age: “Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” Sometimes we try to make ourselves feel better when we pass the buck. Sometimes we blame others for our lack of success, as individuals and as a community. Why is their still violence in our world? Why has the Kingdom of God not yet arrived? If only the Lord Jesus would reveal himself in a way that everyone would believe, then violence would cease and the Kingdom arrive in its fullness. Rather, the Lord Jesus answered Saint Jude, and He responds to us as well: “Whoever loves me will keep my word…not mine but that of the Father who sent me…the Father who will send the Holy Spirit in my name.” Then and only then will our knowledge be complete, and we will be reminded of everything that He has told us. Then and only then will we reveal the Father because we are united with the Son in the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it is the gift of our free will and the offering of our hearts that will give God the glory. Indeed, it is this glory that will attract the worship of those who admire us so that all might delight in the glorious freedom of the children of God.