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(Part 32)


October 01, 2012

Today’s readings:
Job 1:6-22
Luke 9:46-50

In doing the work of evangelization, we are in spiritual war. Satan tries to bring us down and keep us from loving and serving God. Aside from personal attacks, Satan tries to disrupt our relationship with God and with our fellow Christians.

In our relationship to God, Satan brings suffering and pain into our lives, so that instead of continuing to be “blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil” we would “blaspheme (Him) to (His) face.” (Jb 1:8b,11b). Or at the least, we would be discouraged and no longer serve.

In turn, in our relationship with fellow Christians, Satan brings rivalry, both within (in our groups) and without (with other groups). Within the community, there might be rivalry as to “which of them was the greatest.” (Lk 9:46). Thus leaders compete with each other--who has a greater harvest, who commands more the loyalty of his subordinates, who generates more funds, and so on. Outside the community, there might be rivalry with another group that “does not follow in our company.” (Lk 9:49b). This takes a particularly diabolical turn when one group tries to prevent another group from serving God, just as the disciples “saw someone casting out demons in (Jesus’) name and (they) tried to prevent him because he does not follow in (their) company.” (Lk 9:49).

Rivalry is competition. Rivalry is focusing not on God but on ourselves. It is selfishness. It is pride. It is a sin of the flesh by which, as Paul has repeatedly warned, “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:21b). How tragic it would be that we seek to serve God but end up losing our souls.

How do we remain steadfast as servants of Christ?

First, know that Satan is indeed trying to disrupt our relationship with God and with one another. He is tireless in “roaming the earth and patrolling it” (Jb 1:7b), because it is his dominion and he is “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pt 5:8b). We need to be alert. We need to check ourselves whenever we fall into self-pity or rivalry. We stop acting in ways that make Satan victorious.

Second, have the proper posture as to blessings and trials in life. Every good thing comes from God. Every bad thing is allowed by God, in the sense that it is within his power to allow Satan to afflict us or not. If he allows it, then there must be a higher purpose, which will ultimately redound to our good. Thus our posture is that of Job: “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” (Jb 1:21). We must in fact know that suffering is salvific and purifying. Convinced of God’s great love for us and His desire only to bless us, like Job we must “not sin, nor .... say anything disrespectful of God.” (Jb 1:22).

Third, we must take on the humility of a child. “Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side.” (Lk 9:47). A child in Israel then had no social status and was helpless apart from his parents’ help. We must know that we are nothing without God. Whatever we are able to accomplish in His service is only due to His grace and power. So what is there to boast about? We are all unprofitable servants, doing only what we are obliged to do (Lk 17:10b).

Fourth, we must realize that God calls all His disciples to serve Him, and to be of one heart and one mind. We are not to compete, we are not to be envious, we are not to put another down. Our only enemy is Satan. All true Christians are in this fight together. We only want to promote the cause of Christ. We realize the truth that “whoever is not against you is for you.” (Lk 9:50b). We rejoice in the victories of others.

Jesus says, “For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” (Lk 9:48c). We look to our trials and suffering that bring us “prostrate upon the ground” (Jb 1:20b) and humble us. We look to taking on the heart and posture of a child. We do not prevent but rather pray for and assist others in their work for the kingdom.

We are servants before we are leaders. We are nothing whom God makes something of. We are laid low so that we can be raised high. We are the least whom God can make the greatest.

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