Seeking the approval of…

– Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent-

Jesus said, “As for human approval, this means nothing to me. Besides, I know you too well: you have no love of God in you. I have come in the name of my Father and you refuse to accept me; if someone else comes in his own name you will accept him. ‘How can you believe, since you look to one another for approval and are not concerned with the approval that comes from the one God?’” [John 5:31 – 44]

An important question for us to ask ourselves is ‘whose approval do we seek the most?’ This is important because the one whose approval means the most to us is the one whom we ultimately serve. In today’s gospel, Jesus accuses the Jewish authorities of:” [looking] to one another for approval” rather than being “concerned with the approval that comes from the one God.”

Many of us hunger for the approval of others; we seek it out and are often motivated by it. The footballer who scores the winning goal isn’t just enjoying the fact that he has won the game; he is enjoying the cheers and praise of the thousands of people in the grandstand; he is enjoying watching the commentary on TV and the countless replays of the match-winning moment. This is not a bad thing – it is part of the human experience and part of what makes sport and other public events fun for everyone, but it needs context. We need to prioritise the approval we desire. At our deepest and most fundamental level, our desire should be first and foremost for the approval of God.

Putting ourselves in the shoes of the footballer, we are called to play as if it were just God in the grandstand; we give our all because God is watching. Being aware of this not only helps us live a virtuous life but also helps us to put the approval and criticism of others in context. Without our eyes on God, receiving approval from others can lead to pride, while criticism from others can lead to despair. But when we seek God’s approval first and foremost, human approval and criticism can be enjoyed, learnt from, and at times set aside.

Holy Spirit, let us be concerned first and foremost with the approval that comes from God.

by Dcn Peter Pellicaan

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