March 18, 2021
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Readings for Today
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor—Optional Memorial
“How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?” John 5:44
It’s quite normal and healthy for a parent to praise a young child for the good that they do. This healthy positive reinforcement is a way of teaching them the importance of doing good and avoiding what’s wrong. But human praise is not an infallible guide of what is right and wrong. In fact, when human praise is not based in the truth of God, it does great damage.
This short Scripture quote above comes from a lengthy teaching from Jesus about the difference between human praise and “the praise that comes only from God.” Jesus makes it clear that the only thing that has value is the praise that comes from God alone. In fact, earlier in this Gospel, Jesus says clearly, “I do not accept human praise…” Why is that?
Turning back to the example of a parent praising a child for the good they do, when the praise they offer is truly a praise of their goodness, then this is much more than human praise. It is praise from God given through a parent. A parent’s duty must be to teach right from wrong in accord with the will of God.
As for the “human praise” of which Jesus speaks, this is clearly praise of another that is void of the truthfulness of God. In other words, Jesus is saying that if someone were to praise Him for something that did not originate from the Father in Heaven, He would reject it. For example, if someone were to say of Jesus, “I think He would be a great governor of our nation because he could lead a revolt against the current leadership.” Obviously such “praise” would be rejected.
The bottom line is that we must praise one another, but our praise must only be that which originates from God. Our words must be spoken only in accord with the Truth. Our admiration must only be of that which is the presence of God alive in others. Otherwise, if we praise others based on worldly or self-centered values, we only encourage them in sin.
Reflect, today, upon the praise you give and receive. Do you allow misguided praise of others to misdirect you in life? And when you compliment and praise another, is that praise based on the Truth of God and directed to His glory. Seek to give and receive praise only when it is grounded in the Truth of God and directs all to His glory.
My praiseworthy Lord, I do thank You and praise You for Your perfect goodness. I thank You for the way that You act in perfect union with the will of the Father. Help me to listen only to Your voice in this life and to reject all the misleading and confusing voices of the world. May my values and choices be guided by You and You alone. Jesus, I trust in You.
40 Days at the Foot of the Cross – Reflection Twenty-Nine – Jesus is Lifted Up on the Cross
Novena to Saint Joseph
Scripture Meditations for Lent
Saint of the Day – Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor
Featured image above: The Gonzaga Family Worshipping the Holy Trinity By Peter Paul Rubens