The Blessing of Humility
We are living in a time of uncertainty, cultural-political disquiet, conflicts, and advancing secularism. These are just a few challenges to civil society, governance, relationships, Christianity, and more. The direction and future forward is unclear and can be disconcerting. The author T.S. Elliott offered relief from the distractions we face in life when he wrote we can be “distracted from distraction by distraction.” Many of us knowingly or unknowingly do that. The above life concerns are far more than distractions which will not be addressed by other similar distractions.
Today’s advancing world and societal-cultural issues may change how our lives of faith may be lived and broadened. With the challenges we face, today’s three scripture readings from Zephaniah, Paul and Matthew offer hope and guidance. The common thread of their words today is about living life in humility.
In the Old Testament the prophet Zephaniah warns of political turmoil, false prophets, arrogance and idolatries in the Kingdom of Judah. With admonishment he says to the Jewish people, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of earth, ... seek justice, seek humility.” They did not listen to his warnings. Soon thereafter their kingdom was defeated and exiled to Babylon.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians about God choosing the “foolish, weak, lowly, despised and those who count for nothing,” to shame those who “might boast before God.” God chose the humble not those humbled before God.
Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount lists eight beatitudes or blessings as desirable qualities for life. The first beatitude is “Blessed are the poor in spirit” which directs us to be aware and conscious of the need for God’s help. It is a humble admission of the poverty of not being able to do everything ourselves. Humility is not to be understood as an embarrassment from a humbled failure but about personal moral poverty which is humility. We need God’s help in overcoming the challenges ahead of us in the world.
Humility is a virtue that uniquely offers us the companion virtue gratitude which is associated with greater happiness. Humility and gratitude are on opposite sides of the same coin. One cannot help but expose and lead to the other. As we humbly live blessed in “poor spirit” a perspective of gratitude for our lives and God’s loving forgiveness arises.
We are to be a new kind of “distraction” ... seeds cast to the wind to help bring about a virtuous awakening of the beatitudes to offer hope, light, clarity, respect, truth, dialogue and God’s love to these challenged times.
We can start with something rather simple for a world in need to see. Pastor Rick Warren in his book Purpose Driven Life wrote,
“If you have Jesus in your heart, please inform your face.”
Deacon Jack and Sharon Redmond
1927 - 2023
Saturday, March 18
Padre Serra Parish
The Light is Ever-present
As I reflected on the imagery in today’s readings, it struck me that light, literal and symbolic, is overwhelmingly present in our readings at least since Christmas:
December 25, Christmas Day – Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” In Luke’s gospel, the shepherds suddenly see “a multitude of the heavenly host” in the night sky.
January 8, Epiphany – Isaiah: “Your light has come, Jerusalem! Nations shall walk by your light.” In Matthew’s gospel: “The star they [the Magi] had seen at its rising preceded them. It came and stopped over where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star.”
January 15, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Isaiah: “I will make you a light to the nations.” John the Baptist, on seeing Jesus says “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
January 22, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light.”
Those of you who pray the Liturgy of the Hours know that the Church wisely designated the Canticle of Simeon, also known as the Nunc Dimittis, as a part of Night Prayer or Compline. Christians all around the world pray before going to bed:
Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
Your word has been fulfilled.
My eyes have seen the salvation
You have prepared in the sight of every people,
A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel.
These messages are comforting and inspiring, and we need to hear them. Even in winter in Southern California (somewhat colder and wetter this year than recently), somehow the contrast between darkness and light is so powerful that despite its constant repetition, it can revive hope. Jesus is the Light of the World. But for those who lack hope, for those who “walk in the darkness,” that may not be readily apparent, unless we make it so. The readings for the first weekend in February, I think, are the final piece of the beautiful puzzle being assembled week by week:
February 5, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Isaiah: “if you give your bread to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted, then light shall rise for you in darkness .... gloom will become like midday.” And in
Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says that we are the light of the world — that we must
shine before others so that our good deeds may glorify our heavenly Father
Friends, let’s get to it.
We’re all in this together.
Worship and Music Minister
Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Dear Parish family,
If you are like me, every new year, I take the month of January to come up with a list of New Year’s resolutions. Areas in my life I wish to improve physically, mentally, and spiritually. There is always the one about adding more exercise or better eating choices to my daily routine. There is always one about self-care, to truly respect and make it a priority to have downtime and rest. And every year, I always seek an opportunity to grow in my knowledge and faith or in my outreach to others, sharing God’s love. I admit if I succeed in at least one of the items on my list, I feel I did well. I am a work in progress, and I try not to be discouraged when I fail or stumble; I get up and start again.
I bring this up because as I was meditating over the readings of this weekend, one phrase that stood out to me was our response to the Psalm, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” This phrase made me rethink my New Year’s resolutions; though it was a good list, it was all about MY will. I revisited them with God’s will as the focus. What do you want of me, Lord? I asked.
As I continued to read the Psalm, “he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God,” “ears open to obedience you gave me,” “It is prescribed for me to do your will, O my God, is my delight and your law is within my heart!” And finally, in our Gospel, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
What this all means to me now is simply put: Allow God to work through me. He will place the song (words) in my mouth, but I must open my ears to hear his voice so that I may follow. God’s WILL, is my joy. And I will be able to fulfill my Baptismal mission, to testify to all that “He is the Son of God.”
Our openness to his will, our YES, is what Our Lord is asking of us. In this task, let us follow our Mother Mary’s example and say Yes, to the will of God. In her Yes, she allows God to work through her to reach all the ends of the earth.
God is the light, the source of all the good. If we let the light of Jesus shine through us, others might recognize Jesus for who he is, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
I pray that 2023 will be a year of health and blessings for all.
Faith Formation Minister
1937 - 2023
Saturday, April 1
Padre Serra Parish
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