Imitation Is The Greatest Form Of Flattery


6th Sunday In Ordinary Time

Deacon Tom Vert

Posted: February 14, 2021

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery!

This is a quote we all know, but did you know that the first version of this was written in 1708 to describe the last good Roman emperor in 170AD Marcus Aurelius.

It goes on to say: “You should consider that imitation is the most acceptable part of worship, and that the Gods had much rather Mankind should resemble, than flatter them.”

So, this Roman philosopher points to the fact that God wants our behaviour each day to be more like Him, than to just flatter him with nice words.

This in some way repeats what St. James says: “I will show you my actions that will show you my faith.”

It also echoes what St. Paul is telling us in the 2nd reading today “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

St. Paul lived his life after his conversion to Christianity as a humble worker trying to spread the gospel message of Good News.

Though he wrote many letters, he always emphasized that the Christian life is one that is lived through actions and not just words.

He tells us in the 2nd reading “whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”

He goes on to tell the Corinthians (and us) “Avoid giving offense… try to please everyone in every way” …why…for the “benefit of the many, that they may be saved.”

Pope Francis echoed these same sentiments again in 2019 when he said: “The Church grows not through proselytism but by attraction,”.

He then clarified: “This means, dear friends, that our mission as baptized persons, priests and consecrated men and women, is not really determined by the number or size of spaces that we occupy, but rather by our capacity to generate change and to awaken wonder and compassion,” he said.”

The best way to change the world is to change oneself first, to live a life that others will look and say “what is their secret?  What makes them so joyful in the face of adversity?  What keeps them so positive in the face of all the negative influences of the world?

The goal of all our actions as St. Paul says is to give glory to God. Love is to be the motivating force, so try to seek how to help another!

All of ones work and outreach should come as a grateful response to God’s grace in that he loves us and cares for us and keeps us strong in the storms of life even though we are not perfect.

This is why we sing the psalm – psalm 32 – we know in our hearts that when we turn to God in time of trouble, He fills us with mercy, forgiveness, love, peace and strength to go ahead – that is the joy of salvation!  The joy of the kingdom of God here and now available to us each day!

This is the strength that the leper came to Christ with, a faith knowing that he could be healed, and God could come into his life in a special way.

The wording is interesting because he doesn’t say, “heal me” or “cure me”, but instead says “if you choose, you can make me clean”.

If you choose – how great is this statement of faith!  The leper is saying that I know you can cure me, that is not in question at all!  He has ultimate faith that Jesus can actually cure him – for that he has no doubt!

He says – if you choose!

In other words – I know that I am totally unworthy – I know that I have been banished outside the city – I know that my family and friends and everyone else has given up on me – but if you choose – I can be healed and proclaimed clean and re-enter society!

What an amazing display of faith and an example for us!

Jesus looks with love and heals the leper and he will heal each of us from the sins, the distractions and the self-reliance that keep us apart from him.

We are called today to be Christ-like and that is to be our goal as “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery!”

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