Saturday, May 17, 2014

Be an Instrument

Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.  For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 13:46-47

“If you know me, then you will also know my Father.  From now on you do know him and have seen him.”  John 14:7

It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.  Isaiah 49:6

One of Vito Corleone’s most famous lines in “The Godfather” movie was “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”  As we know, the real meaning was neither altruistic nor generous.  The real meaning was “Do as I say or I'll kill you.”  The church-going thugs in these movies betrayed the true faith and backed up their hatred and greed with murder.  
Jesus turns the tables on this.  He makes us an offer that we really can’t refuse.  “Do as I say or I will love you anyway.”  And he follows up those words with his action.  Yet, the refusal of His followers to believe frustrates God’s plan for his chosen people.  That does not stop Jesus nor his followers from continuing to spread the Word.  When it falls on deaf ears in Israel, they take the offer beyond the “chosen” people.”  Israel may have been first, but it was by no means last.  In fact, the Hebrew Bible always spoke to the fact that the Word would bring justice to ALL nations.
Israel was the first step in the journey but not the last.
As we turn to the Last Supper Discourses, we also learn that Jesus is the first step of our faith but not the last.  He asks for us to follow him only so he can lead us to an everlasting life filled with piety, study and action.    

How are you frustrating God’s plan?  What other promises are you following today?  Popular culture throws many such detours in our direction. 
There is an interview with former Microsoft CEO in today’s Wall Street Journal.  Steve Ballmer gave a commencement address last night (Friday May 16) to the graduates of the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  He told the reporter that his overall theme was “And then when it’s all done the two things that will matter in terms of success: were you lucky, and were you having fun every day.” 
Not a breath about being good, kind and generous.  Not a breath about helping others along the way.  Life is more than getting your golf handicap under 10.  Life is more than learning French and buying the next product that emanates out of Redmond or Cupertino or Detroit.
Stepping down from my self-appointed soapbox to enjoy the weekend starting with a cup of Fair Trade coffee with the hope that the farmer who grew the beans that ended up in my moka pot has a little better life than the food conglomerates which try to put Folgers in my pot or convince me that their coffee is good for their profits until the last drop.
What kind of music will your instrument play today?  The self-indulgent music of Hollywood or Wall Street or the salvation music of Isaiah and the Acts of the Apostles?

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