via GIPHYToday’s Readings:
Ita loquimur non quasi hominibus placentes, sed Deo, qui probat corda nostra.
Even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, who proveth our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4b
In thinking about this passage in the context of St John’s decollation I was thinking about how many times St John is pictured as yelling (especially in motion pictures). It’s not enough that John say the truth, he has to yell it out. Herod: you’re an adulterer. Herodias, you’re committing incest. That could have been whispered and his head would come off. The weak are ever afraid of the truth. The emperor’s new something or other.
Today’s world is no less volatile, yet we imagine that we are all emperors, each of us with our fragile little egos inflated, waiting to be popped by a neighbor so that we can yell, “Off with their head!” And so how often do we speak as pleasing men (at all). I’m not talking about topics like sex and marriage here. I’m talking about all the ways we cater to those over us, to those whom we don’t care to bother, offend, engage…
Yesterday I was sitting on a bus with a friend. We were discussing food and things when two teenagers sate down across from us. They were unable to cope with our high falutin topic and so began to make fun of us. This bothered me to no end. So I clammed up. My friend continued talking about beers and such, but I was rather monosyllabic until the kids left the bus.
That was my pride coming into play. But that what it is when we speak to please men: it’s always our pride. How is it so? When we are only concerned for our Job, or our care for the family, or not wanting to get into arguments, or what not… how is it prideful to say something that keeps the peace? If the legitimate issue is “To keep the peace” there may be hope here, but most time it’s not to keep the peace so much as to not cause trouble, or, to not get into trouble. Fear is pride in another form. How so: I don’t want to do anything here that I can’t control. Especially if it’s a matter of moral or truthfulness, I should always trust God when I speak up for his side of the equation. But even when it’s not so important, not trusting my personal safety and my life (in all respects) to God seems… prideful.
This is not the same thing as “God will bless me because I’m his child” nor is it the Prosperity Gospel or any other form of it. Rather this is saying God will bring all things to my salvation. It’s ok. I’m in his hands. Even so, we are commanded to speak with prudence, charity, and a care for the weakest brethren.
So, if you’ve reached sme sort of decision, something that needs to be said, or you’re engaged in a good heart to heart with a friend and just can’t bring yourself to say one thing, or you disengage from a conversation because your companion is oblivious to the snarky kids; then you have started to pay attention to men rather than God.
Now, what has any of these things to do with St Paul or with St John’s head?
If you cave on the little things, you will cave on the big ones. If you’ve done no practicing at all on not letting pride and fear run you life when the going is awkward then when the going is rough, you’ll hide in your pride and fear all the more faster.
I was reading Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman yesterday afternoon, his Meditations and Devotions. This prayer speaks to this theme, I believe:
O, my God, I will put myself without reserve into Thy hands. Wealth or woe, joy or sorrow, friends or bereavement, honour or humiliation, good report or ill report, comfort or discomfort, Thy presence or the hiding of Thy countenance, all is good if it comes from Thee. Thou art wisdom and Thou art love — what can I desire more ? Thou hast led me in Thy counsel, and with glory hast Thou received me. What have I in heaven, and apart from Thee what want I upon earth ? My flesh and my heart faileth : but God is the God of my heart, and my portion for ever.
That line, “Wealth or woe, joy or sorrow, friends or bereavement, honour or humiliation, good report or ill report, comfort or discomfort, Thy presence or the hiding of Thy countenance, all is good if it comes from Thee.” How unlike us is that line… “It’s all good if it comes from God.”
We do like to think some things come from God. But what about those other things? Clearly that’s Satan.
But no: it’s all coming from God. Certainly God works with our Free Will, but that said, how many times do we run away from something we’re afraid of simply because it’s out of our hands? How many times do we not want something, do we walk away from higher, more difficult, and because I want to indulge my fears or my social hopes; because it’s not in our control?