Friday of Week 22 in Ordinary Time
1 Cor 4:1-5
Then will be the time for each one to have whatever praise he deserves, from God.
In this day and age, social media allows us to share our innermost thoughts and receive comments in a split second. There are so many instances when scrolling a Facebook newsfeed or Instagram feed will yield an overwhelming clamour for one’s attention span and ‘eyeballs’. Even LinkedIn has become a platform for self-advertisement, in a time when job-seekers and head-hunters prowl the web to look for potential jobs and hires.
While there is certainly no going back to a time when none of this happened, it is palpable that this culture we now live in can gradually lead us down the slippery road of living primarily for worldly praise and affirmation. ‘Likes’ and ‘Follows/Followers’, virtual as these may be, have become more tangible than our real-life relationships with the people we live and work with. We can even ‘go back in time’ now to see how popular certain posts made years ago were; be reminded of the ‘top post’ that received the most number of reactions and comments; relive the public memories through event and photo anniversaries.
But: What does having these virtual nods and cheers signal about our real worth?
If these were taken away from us (or even the memory of it wiped clean) how would we reconcile that virtual personal/image with our physical existence and actual state of relationships?
In the first reading, St Paul reminds the early Christians about the nature of true Apostleship – that the work and ministry they were involved in was a sacred duty entrusted by God. They were not to laud about their abilities nor lord it over others.
“What is expected of stewards is that each one should be found worthy of his trust. Not that it makes the slightest difference to me whether you, or indeed any human tribunal, find me worthy or not […] the Lord alone is my judge. There must be no passing of premature judgement.” (1 Corinthians 4:1-5)
As Christians, every aspect of our life is about Apostleship. We are not only sharing our faith because of our church work, we are also revealing the truth about God’s mercy and love in the way we live our lives, the choices we make, and the words we speak. Are we living a life of materialism, flamboyance and debauchery outside of our Sunday obligations? Are we parading and showing off our achievements in order to boast and even demean others? Do we preach mercy while practicing discrimination or passing unkind judgement on others?
What is the spirit in which we conduct ourselves – and is this done in a life-giving manner?
Indeed, these questions are a ponderance for myself, even as it may be for us all. I am far from perfect in adhering to my mission to be an apostle for Christ. My days of stumbling are many – but like St Paul says, “I will not even pass judgement on myself.” At the very end, God is far more able to discern my intentions than the outsider, even it be that I am maligned or misunderstood. At the end, God does my final appraisal.
What He judges is the effort I am making, and the spirit from which I am acting. He alone will try and find me worthy. May I remember this, when I sway with the tide of popularity and favour that obscures my vision.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach us to seek Your face and Your will in all that we do. We need to hold fast to our true identity as children of God.
Thanksgiving: I give thanks for the humbling reminder that I am only a pencil in God’s hand. I thank God that in His merciful wisdom, the first might be last and the last might be first.