Today’s readings are from Acts, Psalm 67 and John. The reading from Acts describes the selection and sending forth of Barnabas and Saul to Cyprus by the Holy Spirit to “proclaim the word of God in the Jewish synagogues.” The Responsorial Psalm appeals to all of us to give praise to God and appeals to God to bless us and for us to fear God. And, in John, Jesus tells us that He has come into the world “as light,” and He warns us not to reject Him, for He speaks for the Father. Jesus assures us that He knows God’s “commandment is eternal life,” for what He says is what the Father told Him.
As I reflect on these readings, I get stuck on the idea of “giving praise to God.” What is praise? What is enough praise? And, when should we be giving praise? These questions come to mind, because I believe that in our world of plenty, it is pretty easy to view what we have, and what happens to us, as mostly of our own doing. This works pretty well until we have things happen to us that are outside our control or want things that we cannot buy.
Nearly eleven years ago, my mother died in Oregon. I prayed for her survival, but she died. At the moment of her death, I had a choice. I could be angry at God for not letting her live, or I could be grateful for all the love that she showered on me when she was alive. I chose the latter and prayed with gratitude for her love and generosity. This gave me a profound sense of comfort, and I was glad that I could view her death in such a way. This started a string of prayers of gratitude. During the week following her death, the charity to which I was giving many of my mother’s possessions could not find the 25 story building in which she lived, so they could not pick up my donation. In sharing my frustration with the moving company that I was using, the clerk at the moving company asked if I would be willing to donate to her charity, and if I was willing, they would promptly pick up the donation. I prayed in gratitude for God’s intercession at that time. On the drive home to Omaha from Oregon, I forgot to replace the gas cap on the car at a remote gas station in Wyoming. At the next gas station, also in Wyoming, I discovered my mistake, and when I asked the attendant if they sold gas caps, he told me they did not, but they had a box of gas caps that people had left behind at his station. To my dismay, there was only one gas cap in the box, but praise be to God, it fit the car!!
I certainly could be better at “giving praise to God,” but I am working on being more faithful at saying “Thank you, Heavenly Father” when His blessings befall me. Whether it is when I cannot find something that I have lost, and suddenly it turns up, or when I narrowly escape another driver’s carelessness (or my own), I try to remember to say a simple “Thank you, Heavenly Father.” I am working on being more faithful and more faith-filled, and I am finding that “giving praise to God” is a helpful act to move me in the direction of greater awareness of God’s presence in my life.
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