Deacon Tony reflects: Eyes on the prize

Imagine, if you can, being one of the seventy-two sent out by Jesus to preach the Good News. Imagine the fears they may have had, imagine the nerves they may have had, imagine the doubts they may have had. They were to go out without the means of looking after themselves, trusting only in the providence of God. They were to prepare the way for the Lord and proclaim peace to those they met. They had been instructed on how to deal with acceptance and rejection; and they were aware of what to do in both circumstances.

Contrast their concerns with how they rejoiced on their return. God had blessed their mission and they had many successes and the signs they worked in Jesus’ name gave them great confidence. Jesus said to them that their focus was wrong, they were rejoicing on things which impressed their fellow man, instead, He said their joy should be that their names are written in heaven. A reminder for us that even when we are doing the work of the Lord, we need to be wary of falling into the trap of celebrating man’s ways instead of God’s ways.

St Paul reminds us in his letter to the Galatians that our only boast should be in Christ. He emphasises that the concerns of mankind as to whether someone obeys this rule or that rule are nothing compared to the fact that someone believes and follows the teachings of Christ; so that they may become a new creation in Christ.

Nowadays, in sporting terms this would be called “keeping our eyes on the prize”. As Christians our goal is to live a life that serves God and serves our neighbour, so that we can achieve our ultimate goal; to live as new creations with our Saviour and King. We need to keep our eyes on the prize, but our prize is not something which is perishable. Our prize is spelled out in the first reading as we rejoice and are glad; we savour with delight as we become the glory of the nations, “like a son comforted by his mother, will I comfort you. And by Jerusalem you will be comforted”. This is the promise made to the Faithful in Isaiah’s time, it was the promise made to the seventy-two and it is the promise made to us today.

This past week I have been distracted from keeping my eyes on the prize, I had a positive test for Covid. I was rightly challenged by a friend and Parishioner as to why I hadn’t asked for prayers for myself. I said to him that I hadn’t thought to ask for prayers for myself. My thoughts were on the here and now, looking to get well again under my own steam instead of asking my brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for me.

It is something we all need to remember, especially if we feel a little bit disheartened; keep our eyes on the prize, our prize is eternal life, it was promised to us by Jesus and Jesus keeps His promises.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

CCC 541-546: the Kingdom of God is at hand
CCC 787, 858-859: the Apostles, united to the mission of Christ
CCC 2122: “the labourer deserves his food”
CCC 2816-2821: “Your kingdom come”
CCC 555, 1816, 2015: the Cross as the way to follow Christ

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • The Year of the Eucharist, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • Fr Chris Whelan who is sick and Fr John & Fr Dominic who are having to make changes to support St Joseph’s at this time.
  • For all couples who celebrated a ‘significant’ wedding anniversary with the Bishop at at St Bede’s on Saturday.