Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Who Is the Owner?

Fr. George Panackal

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God’s glory, and Jesus standing at the right-hand side of God. “Look!” he said. “I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right-hand side of God!” Then they all rushed at him at once, threw him out of the city and stoned him. ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ He knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord! Do not remember this sin against them!’ He said this and died” (Acts 7:54-60).
Stephen did not think the stones coming against him will be changed into flowers, or that those who threw the stones would be dashed to the ground. Since he was with God he did not have any such imaginations. Instead of praying for a miracle by God, he prayed, “Lord! Do not lay this sin against them!” When any word or deed is said or done against a person who is full of the Spirit, what rises from the heart of that person is, “Father! Do not hold this against them!” Stephen prayed thus for his persecutors. The Holy Spirit will teach us how to act in such circumstances. As mentioned above, if we wish the stones should be turned into flowers, we shall be greatly disappointed when it does not happen so.
Nowhere else in history do we find mention of any person praying for those who were stoning him to death? In the midst of those who stoned Stephen, there was also a man named Saul. That Saul later became Paul. Stephen’s prayer must have been the cause of his conversion. Through that prayer, Saul, from being an enemy, was converted and became a great witness of Christ Jesus, ready to die for Him. He became the greatest missionary the world has ever seen. May Stephen’s prayer do the same wonder today in the lives of those who are anxiously worrying about those who harm them, whether at home or at place of work.
Paul and Silas were arrested and their hands and feet were bound with chains. The guards stood outside. But unmindful of the jail and chains they only saw Jesus who could, if He wanted, shatter the chains and break the jail. They were convinced that He was with them even in the middle of the night. With that conviction they continued to sing and praise their Lord and Master. They surrendered all their adversities into His hands. In the end, their chains were loosened and doors of the jail were thrown open. Had we been in the place of Paul and Silas we would have questioned God, why He is not intervening in our predicament, why He is not minding us; is there no God? The person who tries to look at situations using his own intelligence and reasoning will only burden his own head with his adversities. On the other hand, one who adores and praises
God in adversity will see God in it.
God sends His Spirit whenever we are in trouble. Why? So that we may understand the truth and know God’s will. Consider the disciples of Jesus in the Upper Room. They were praying so that they might receive the Holy Spirit; they were praying only to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Not because they did not have other things in mind. Like us they too had several pressing problems in their lives. They had left their boats and nets
and followed Jesus. But with His death everything seemed to be lost. They were back to their poverty-stricken life. They began going back to the sea. In spite of all this they gathered in the Upper Room and prayed not for prosperity and wealth. Even though they shut themselves in the room for fear of the Jews, they did not think of their tormentors once they were together there. They prayed only to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God came down upon them in their moments of adversity.
When we are in adverse circumstances are we able to pray for the Holy Spirit like the disciples? If we are able to do so, the Spirit will surely come to us. The Spirit will give us the freedom to understand the truth and to adore and praise God and call Him Abba, Father. “See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God’s children – and so, in fact, we are. This is why the world does not know us: it has not known God.”(1Jn3:1)
Many people think that God makes us suffer and cry. In that case, He must be very small and feeble. On the contrary, in every opposing circumstance, God makes us grow in the knowledge of truth. To grow in knowledge means to grow in truth.
What is our outlook on wealth? We think that with our own effort we made all that wealth; we are its owner, its master. But is that true? The Bible tells us that the owner of wealth is God; man is only its keeper and its user. Do we realize it? If we do, we will not spend a paisa without consulting its owner. Take such a decision and our life style will completely change. Will God give us money to waste on alcohol or to spend lavishly on
unnecessary things? Only those who consider themselves as owner will feel the loss of wealth. Those who place it in God’s hands will not have such regrets. We must seek God, the owner of wealth; our aim and objective should not be the wealth alone. Ask ourselves whether we are running after riches which cannot save us, or after Jesus who alone can save us. God is the one who protects us. His promise is before us: “Look at the birds of the air! They neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns. Yet God feeds them”(Lk.12:24). Let this conviction fill every part of our being.

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