St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

For the Glory of God

The readings of today invite us to contemplate what the reward is for one who serves the Lord. It doesn't look very good. In the book of Wisdom, the just is persecuted because of envy and because his life is a living reproach for his enemies. Jesus announces that his reward on earth will be a cross. The apostles don't understand. They think that because they are so close to Jesus, because they work with him, they will deserve honour, and so they discuss among them who is the greatest. Jesus tells them: "the greatest must be the servant". He is the servant, the suffering servant that will provide his own life as a ransom, his own flesh as food. St. James also speaks about those who are anxious for earthly things, those who ask wrongly because they look for an earthly happiness, and not for the wisdom from above. A wisdom that is not a PhD, but an intimate relationship with God.

I want to apply this especially to our work in the Church, in the service of God and our brothers and sisters. In our parish, thanks be to God, there are so many groups and people who serve in so many ways. So my point today is: service in the Church is not undertaken for the sake of honour (for the sake of human recognition), but only for the glory of God.

You know what? I say this because I'm really afraid of forgetting to thank someone. Because we all are imperfect, and sometimes we fail to thank properly the people who work very hard. So let these words be a consolation for them, because if a human person doesn't thank you, be sure that your God will never forget a single tear you have shed for him.

People may not understand how much it cost you to do something. People may think wrongly about your intentions in doing this or that. Your very boss may not even notice something you have done well, and gives the prize to others. It may also be your father or your priest. And it hurts.

It may happen sometimes that your father certainly realizes what you are doing, but for another reason he does not praise you. Perhaps, because he will give you a better prize later. Perhaps, because he is protecting you from envy or from your own pride. Perhaps, as God does sometimes, he teaches you to make Himself your reward.

We don't have to seek the praise of people. Your work does not receive its value from people, but from God. It is only God who sees your heart, how much love you put into your work. Moreover, people will not judge your works, God will. And on that day, those who clapped for you will not be there to defend you, or to add something to the Judgment of God. Sometimes, the same people who praise you, praise also other people who do wrong, and those who clap at a good work of yours then clap for a shameful show, or for something unworthy. Clapping passes very fast, and two minutes after a huge applause, people will no longer remember you. One thing is important to remember: honour is something that is not within yourself, but in other people. It doesn't change anything in you; it doesn't make you a better person, and sometimes it even makes you proud. To be a good person has nothing to do with being honoured, because sometimes a good person may suffer persecution, and a bad person be honoured by the majority. We do not have to seek any reward but God.

God is our reward, God is our recompense. "Enter the joy of your Lord" the Lord will say, on that day, to his faithful servant. We have to work always in the hope that one day, for those little works we do, our God will give us himself. When people scorn you or simply ignore you, smile, because your God is watching at you, and you are pleasing him and coming closer to him. When people clap, smile, laugh, because they don't even know how much more fun you will have in heaven when the Lord and all the angels will clap you.

Fr. Andrew