Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More
by Angela M Jendro
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14th Sunday of Ordinary Time
“And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” (v. 4)
Growing up we tend to take our family members for granted and mistreat the ones we love the most – particularly our siblings! A childish point of view sees siblings in competition with us – for resources, status, achievement, and affection. A mature perspective appreciates the gift of a sibling – someone who shares your history, someone who knows your whole story, whose achievements do not diminish yours but rather should give you pride.
The people in Jesus’ town were His extended family relations. They could not believe their eyes or ears which informed them that He was the long-awaited Messiah. Pride revolted complaining that Jesus was too ordinary for such a role.
Satan impresses the idea that we need to be big and important, powerful, famous, a person of clout to do any good work, and certainly someone from “out there in the world” not from “right here in town.” Yet, Jesus saved all of mankind through impoverishing Himself, living a hidden life for thirty years in a small family in a small town, and completing His public ministry with rejection, and a torturous crucifixion and death. The apostles’ pride and our own strains to believe such a mystery. In fact, the only reason we accept this path is because of its fruit – resurrection. As St. Paul said, (I Corinthians 15:17) had Jesus not risen from the dead, our faith would be in vain. But Jesus did, and we will too.
|“Abba Anthony said, ‘I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, ‘What can get through from such snares?’ Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Humility.’” Sayings of the Desert Fathers|
The best vantage point for battle is sneaking behind enemy lines unnoticed and attacking by surprise or disrupting the supply chain. This role is best done unseen and quietly.
The pride of the world cannot accept the humility of Christ, yet it continues to cripple us. Jesus offers healing but He does not force it. “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.” (v. 5-6)
Christ began the beatitudes proclaiming, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Every saint and spiritual writer echo His insistence that humility is the foundation of holiness. Here are just a few quotes to consider:
|“If then pride be the beginning of all sin, whereby should the swelling of pride be cured, had not God vouchsafed to humble Himself? Let man blush to be proud, seeing that God has humbled Himself. For when man is told to humble himself, he disdains it…The Lord Christ therefore vouchsafed to humble Himself in all things, showing us the way; if we but think meet to walk thereby.” St. Augustine|
|“For that persecutor, when first he was created, raised himself up in the haughtiness of pride, throwing himself into death and expelling Man from the glory o Paradise; but God did not will to resist him by His power, but conquered him by humility through His Son…So let anyone who wishes to conquer the Devil arm himself with humility” St. Hildegard of Bingen|
|“The deeper our encounter with God, the more humble we become. Humility is a sign of a real experience of God.” Jacques Philippe The Eight Doors of the Kingdom|
Humility sprouts from authenticity – knowing one’s own littleness as a creature not the Creator, and at the same time one’s profound dignity as a child of God. It expresses itself in loving service, like Christ washing the feet of the apostles. A definition I once heard for humility (which really hit home!) was being teachable. Humility opens one up for so much growth and freedom because we aren’t held back by the obstinacy or critical resistance of pride.
Begin by encountering God in prayer. Then look around you – the secret to a life of greatness may be right in front of you, in your own family or your own town through loving service.
- Consider how humble Jesus must have been for His extended family to find it so incredulous that Jesus would be anything but ordinary.
- Humility can be like a weapon of stealth – it’s quiet, hidden, and undetected by pride. How does a humble approach disarm prideful conflict?
- Consider the non-violent protests of Martin Luther King Jr. or of Gandhi.
- How might you apply it to your own relationships?
- Instead of being defensive, try to be understanding.
- Small acts of love can soften hardened hearts.
- Caring for children is a humble task yet one of tremendous influence.
- Humility and Love are inseparable. Consider how humility springs from a love and appreciation for God, and how it inspires humble love toward others.
- How has your relationship with your siblings (if applicable) changed over the years? How has it matured? How might it still mature more?
- Pray the Litany of Humility by Cardinal Merry del Val
- Make a gratitude list – one for God, and one for each of your family members.
- Tell a sibling something you admire about him or her.
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