Psalm 116:12-13, 14-15, 16-17
I see several challenges for each of us from today's readings.
Psalm 116 says, "How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?" To be grateful we must first be aware of all the good that God has done for us. I think that sometimes it is easier for us to be moved by the tribulations more than the joys, to feel the hurts more than the helps, to miss what we don't have rather than be satisfied in what we do. We all know (probably too few) people who have that wonderful, positive attitude toward their possessions, their place in life, their gifts from God, people who are genuinely grateful. And we sometimes find fault with them because they are too good to be true. So on one level, we need to strive for genuine awareness of the nature of our gifts before we can address this challenge from the Psalm.
The second challenge is then obvious - how do I show my gratitude to God for all that I have received? The verses chosen for today hint at that (and could well have been a prayer that Jesus made). "The cup of salvation I will take up . . ." "To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving . . ." But the verses preceding this excerpt place this challenge in context. The Psalmist relates that he raised his voice to God in supplication, that death encompassed him, that God saved him and returned his soul to tranquillity. This is fundamental gratitude - God has saved us from eternal death. There is a life that follows death, and our souls will be tranquil in that time. The Psalmist indicates that in gratitude for receiving this salvation from death he is willing to take up the cup of salvation and will make great sacrifices. The challenge for us is what does this mean - what sacrifices are we called to make? To answer this I think we again need to be aware of where we are in life, what we have received, and what use of these gifts would most please God, not what use of those gifts most pleases us.
The third challenge from today's readings is in John. Jesus has spoken frankly about who He is in the verses preceding today's gospel. As a result, many of His disciples left and returned to their former ways. What did Jesus say? He stated that the way to salvation is through Him. And many people, people who had followed Him and heard Him and had seen Him act, could not accept this challenge of faith, of believing in His divinity and His salvific mission. Whenever I reflect on this reality I always think of Jesus' admonition to Thomas - blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe. John relates a situation where even some of those who saw, interacted with, listened to, and had discourses with Jesus could not really see and accept Him for who He was and what He came to do.
Three challenges - to be aware of the great gift of salvation from
God, to accept God's call to sacrifice in gratitude for that gift, and
to have faith that following Jesus is the way to take up the cup of salvation.
My prayer today is be more aware, to be more receptive, to have stronger
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