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Attribution


The Apostles St Paul and St Barnabas at Lystra (Jacob Jordaens)

I have been reflecting on a story told in the Acts of the Apostles in relation to the ministry of Saints Paul and Barnabas in Lystra…


“In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, ‘Stand up on your feet!’ At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’ Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: ‘Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news…” Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.” (Act 14:8-18).

And I have found this story very interesting because the behaviour of the Lycaonians reminds me very much of my own behaviour, because I have found that in my own life that I – like the Lycaonians – have a serious problem with attribution…

You see, when things are going well, and everything in life seems to be – for a moment at least – falling into place as I have liked and have planned, I – like the Lycaonians – tend to congratulate myself! I effectively call myself a god and offer sacrifices for myself through my pride in my own attributes, which is in effect a way that I can worship my own powers! During those times, I will think to myself – see, that worked so well because I am clever, or I am well-prepared, or I am good at this thing or that thing. And I forget my Beloved – attributing all GOOD to the works of my hands and the thoughts of my mind…


And when things are going badly, and everything in life seems to be – for what feels like eternity – working exactly the opposite of what I have envisaged for myself, I – like the Lycaonians – tend to blame myself. And in this way too, I effectively call myself a god and offer sacrifices for myself by relying on my own powers for success or failure! I will think to myself – see, that did not work so well because I am stupid, or I am unprepared, or I am bad at this thing or that thing. And I forget my Beloved – who turns all things to the GOOD…


How silly I am… For I so easily forget the TRUTH that Christ revealed to Saint Faustina, which she recorded in her Diary 1731, “Through the chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.”


And again, Saint Faustina wrote in her own words in Diary 138, "I see now that a soul cannot do much of itself, but with God it can do all things. Behold what God’s grace can do. Few are the souls that are always watchful for divine graces, and even fewer of such souls who follow those inspirations faithfully."


For ALL THINGS happen through the Holy Will of God.


And how I weep to see that I am like the Israelites in the desert who made false gods of a golden calf at the foot of God’s own mountain, or like the Lycaonians, who made false gods of the Saints who merely proclaimed the Word of God.


For should not I already understand by now that ALL THINGS happen ONLY through the Holy Will of God?


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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