Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Dangers of Success

5th Sun. Ordinary Time
1Cor. 9, 16-23
Mk. 1, 29-39

In today’s 2nd reading, St. Paul boasts that he derives no profit from his preaching of the Gospel besides that of doing God’s will.  In this he was simply following the advice of Jesus to His apostles, “Freely you have received, freely give…”  Jesus, Himself, gives us His own example of how to avoid the subtle temptation to make the proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven a personal ego trip.  He rose early in the morning, went to a place of solitude and prayed.  At this point in St. Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is experiencing tremendous success in His mission.  All day He is healing diseases, driving out demons, preaching to huge crowds who marvel at His words.  But by night He prays.  More than His body yearns for rest does His spirit yearn to rest in the bosom of His Father.  Jesus does not want to appropriate to Himself the acclaim of the crowds, but desires to work only for the glory of the One who sent Him.  Alone with His Father, He gives all to Him.  And when the disciples find Jesus, He tells them He must go to other villages rather than bask in the glory of the town that had already accepted Him.

In our own day we have seen to our dismay what happens to those who seek to profit from their proclamation of the Gospel.  But before we judge them, let us examine our own consciences.  When we do good, do we do it for God’s sake or so that we will have the esteem of others?  How do we feel when our good works are not noticed or taken for granted?  The only way we can keep our hearts pure is by constantly turning them heavenward in prayer.  Everything we have is a gift given us from above which is meant to be used for the benefit of others and the glory of God.  The reward we are to seek is a greater conformity of our selves to the One we serve and a greater share in His life.  If we do this, we will be a source of blessing to all we meet and an open channel of grace for the world.

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