Immersed in Christ: December 15, 2020
Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent
Praise God for What You See
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
If those whom the Jews looked up to—the chief priests and elders of the people—had simply praised God for the good they saw John doing, they might have listened to him with a different attitude. They might even have accepted his message themselves. That would have saved both them and Israel from the disasters they caused.
Jesus said to them: “When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
If they had praised God for the conversion of the tax collectors and prostitutes, they might have been converted themselves.
It was different when Peter explained to the church in Jerusalem why he had baptized some Gentiles. They “praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’”
Paul got the same reaction when he went to all the Christian elders and “related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard it, they praised God” (Acts 21:19).
When Paul and Barnabas came to Jerusalem, “they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses’” (Acts 14:4).
And they fought to impose the Mosaic (Jewish) rules on Gentile converts until they brought about Paul’s death. (Read the story, beginning with Acts 21:20).
Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time and of Paul’s, the “Pharisee party” in every age, instead of praising God for the good they see and hear, ignore everything but their obsession with law observance. They have no appreciation for the Good News or for God’s goodness in extending it. Our first protection against the virus of Phariseeism is praise: to praise God and praise people for all the good we see. What we praise we will appreciate. Praise makes us aware of what God is doing in people and in the world. Praise makes us appreciate the Good News.
I will change and purify the lips of the peoples,
That they all may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one accord.
When we praise God together, it unites us.
DAILY PRACTICE: Be aware. Bless the Lord at all times; let praise be always in your mouth.
ADVENT PRAYER: “Give us new heart, Lord, so that we may celebrate what we see, and be aware of what we don’t see.”