The weekly scripture reflections will be on hold for the duration of the Christmas period, with the reflections starting again on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, on January 15th...
There exists an essential connection between praise and thanksgiving. These two are constantly, repeatedly and firmly joined throughout the Psalms which speak of the Lords’s goodness, his unfailing love, and the way in which he cares and provides for his faithful people. A good example appears in Psalm 10 where we read “I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart. I will tell the story of your marvellous acts.” A little later on the psalmist prays that he will be kept “like the apple of your eye.”
Certainly David was the apple of his eye and
Our OLD TESTAMENT READING [2 SAMUEL 12: 7. 10 – 13] provides us with a splendid digest of the Lord’s goodness to the king. In fact God would have made further provisions “I would add to you much more.”
Last week we spoke of the need to ensure that the praise of God should be our top priority. What needs to immediately follow is
OUR THANKS – thanksgiving. Far too often it is the ‘gimme’ syndrome which kicks in at the very beginning. Shame on us. The disciples once asked Jesus to teach them how to pray and the Lord provided them – and us – with the basic pattern. Take a good look at this structure. See the priorities.
Why do we praise people? Is it not because they have done great things, for and to us? We praise and thank them for their goodness.
PRAISE and THANKSGIVING. It is the basic way of affirmation. Most people need to be affirmed. God, in some strange but real way, needs to be affirmed. He needs our affirmation. TODAY’S PSALM [32 or 31] says it splendidly: “Rejoice in the Lord, exult you just! Ring out your joy, all you upright of heart.” The disappointment and, yes, the hurt of God is easily apparent in Nathan’s message to king David – as outlined in our Old Testament reading. Are we any better than David? No doubt most of us are not as great sinners but, nevertheless there exists, in a minor key, a mirror image.
Now take a look at
TODAY’S GOSPEL [LUKE 7: 36 – 8:3]. The parable spoken by Jesus to Simon has a number of applications which often miss our attention. I wonder how often we are aware of the need to praise and thank our God for his ongoing forgiveness of our sin, faults and failings. I will remember to thank him when I have come through major surgery, when a much-loved friend or relative recovers from illness, a daughter is safely delivered of a child, or a son / daughter has managed, in the end, to emerge with a minimum of permanent scars from a traumatic divorce. However, how often do I praise and thank him for putting up with me and my ongoing ineptitudes and bungling?
In addition, as with our Old Testament extract, we are taught that the Lord favours the sinner who is conscious and personally aware of his / her
failings as well as expressing this in some sort of specific way – not mere words as we sort of ‘go through the routine’. If we read a little further after Nathan’s conversation with David, we see that the king not only admitted his sin but was truly repentant (not for the last time I might add!) as he embarked upon a visible process of repentance. Simon on the other hand did not see himself as in real need of forgiveness and conversion. He saw and judged himself as superior to the woman, and was condescending in his answer to Jesus’ question – “the one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” Somehow or other we always seem to judge the public sinner more harshly than ourselves. The problem with this approach is that it too easily results in our living far too comfortably with our little peccadillos! These become a habit which we no longer see or acknowledge as weakening our honest discipleship. Like Simon we live far too comfortably with our sinful failings. This would not be so if I developed the habit of a thankful praise of the Lord regarding his ongoing forgiveness OF ME.
Simon had yet to reach this stage of his living. He was still subject to the law. As Paul reminds us
TODAY [GALATIANS 2: 16. 19 – 21], we are not subjects of the law but of grace. “I live by faith …. who loved me and gave himself for ME.” Our praise and thanksgiving must become much more personal – especially regarding the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy.