Today, I was the lector for daily Mass and I read something that really made me think and reflect. Today's scripture was about when Paul and Barnabas fled Iconium because they were almost stoned; they healed a man in Lystra; were lauded as gods and then they turned down the honor. (Acts 14: 5-18)
What stopped them from accepting the crowd's willingness to treat them as gods? Did they just stop and remember that they weren't supposed to, because of the ten commandments? Did they berate themselves for pride and find that turning down the honor was a difficult temptation?
No. They "tore their garments." I believe Paul and Barnabas loved Jesus very much. I believe they loved Him so much that to even consider accepting any credit for His glorious actions pained them deeply.
I thought about so many modern "teachers" or "gurus" who teach people to love themselves above all else, some of which may not encourage but do allow people to worship them as "enlightened ones," like gods. What if Paul and Barnabas had reduced themselves to that level?
They could have. Why didn't they? Paul and Barnabas lived devoted to our Creator, the "living God." It was the love for Him that fueled their passion. To accept any credit was unthinkable. Their joy was to spread the message of God's ever-living, ever-loving power, everlasting power- A love so great that our Creator took on flesh and then sacrificed that flesh for us.
What if Jesus had not risen? Would He even have been remembered as a teacher and prophet? Or would he have been remembered as a failure, a weakling and a fraud?
A great truth emerges from the Resurrection- The strong and firm foundation on the living God is the only true enlightenment, the only firm rock we can trust, the only freedom and power worth giving our lives for.
To consider any credit for anything our Creator gives us is pure blasphemy. I have nothing and am nothing unless my Creator allows me to have it.
By spending time with God- in prayer, in service, in the sacraments, or in any act of worship, we come to love Jesus more and more. We come to love Him so much that receiving credit for anything becomes absolutely unthinkable.