Daily Thought For December 14, 2017

Giving The Glory To God


IN ISAIAH’S POETRY, the Lord calls Jacob a worm and Israel a maggot (41:14). Of course, some translations soften it a little by using the word insect. The King James version just says ye men of Israel. In any case, that name-calling jolts us, especially at 7 A.M. Mass. Would we be able to take it if the Lord faced us squarely with our reality?

The text goes on to tell us that the Lord will help even worms and maggots; the promises of prosperity, fertile, fruitful lands, and precious forests continue—in fact, mightily! “You shall rejoice in the LORD; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory” (Is 41:16). The point of the reading: The wonderful things happening to Israel will ultimately be God’s doing, not ours. “The hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it” (Is 41:20).

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus talks to the crowds. Some support him; others object to everything he says and does. He praises the greatness of his cousin, John the Baptist. At the same time, Jesus tells us that the least in the Father’s kingdom is greater than John.
In A Guide to the Eucharist and Hours, Kevin W. Irwin unravels these texts wonderfully. He says that John is a “model of unprecedented self-effacement before God.” John knows his importance, but he “humbly stands aside when the Lord comes.” Irwin goes on, “John, this last and specially chosen prophet, leads us by word and example to realize that we too must be self-effacing before the Lord.”

Isn’t it true: We hope people will like what we did for them, be grateful for our efforts, say “thank you” for the hot chocolate and cookies.… Obviously, we’ve done the deed for ourselves, if we expect thanks.

Irwin’s final comments say it all:

  John’s example functions as a most important Advent model for us, especially as we prepare for the coming holidays. There are cards to send, gifts to purchase, food to prepare, family to please, and neighbors to greet. But, in all this, we ought to remember why we do it—out of love for others and to spread the peace of Christ, the true gift of Christmas. We are to incarnate Jesus’ love in our daily lives among those we love and especially among those who do not love us.

Mary, I can’t quite imagine that you pouted when your Son ran in, grabbed a cookie, and ran off to play with his friends. Well, I can’t imagine that he forgot to say thank you either. Are you smiling? Isn’t this the normal backside of every weaving? Help me not to take myself too seriously!


  Today, do what you do for the doing of it and for the Lord—not for the thanks you will or won’t receive. That’s the stuff of saints!


  Jesus, teach me to pray like Isaiah: “The hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it” (41:20).

Frisk, M. J. (2005). Joyous Expectation: Journeying through Advent with Mary (pp. 41–43). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

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