Meditation for the Day

Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time, February 25

The Virtue of Humility Should Always Be the Foundational Element for Our Personal Prayer Life, for We Freely Acknowledge That We Need God’s Help in Our Strivings to Be a Holier and More Virtuous People.

In today’s Gospel, our Lord is teaching His disciples, and each one of us as well, a lesson on true humility – “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

Our Readings today focus on the virtue of humility, a virtue about which I have written many times in past meditations. It is our embracement of this virtue which brings us close to the Heart of our Lord; and it is in its absence where we find ourselves separated from His Presence.

Today’s Readings can also bring to mind for many of us those times when we are invited to various dinners or banquets, and, if there are no place cards for the invited guests, many of us try to find the best table or the best seat. I know that, for my wife and myself, we personally do not like sitting next to the band’s speakers, so we sit as far away as possible. Others like sitting near the bride and groom or the guest of honor, or at a table which they hope will be called first to go through the food line, or maybe a table that is near the bar or the dessert line.

Our Readings can also remind us of our Lord’s parable about the wedding banquet, where one, who would choose to sit in a place of honor, could be embarrassed if he were asked to give up his seat to someone of more importance. And Jesus ended this parable with the phrase with which we are all familiar, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Humility, or the absence of it, can be a determining factor in what sort of Christian people we become, as represented through our personal conduct and behavior with those around us.

In James’ Letter in our First Reading today, he is apparently dealing with a situation wherein the Christian faithful are not living lives in harmony with the teachings of Christ, for there are those who have given in to their passions. He advises them, “Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess…You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

And he goes on to tell them later, “‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ So submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts…Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.”

And in our Gospel today, we find the Apostles jockeying amongst themselves about who is the greatest. I can picture our Lord standing there shaking His head in disbelief. The Apostles still did not yet understand what it meant to follow Jesus – that a true disciple is called to be of service to the needs of others! And our Lord responded, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

For it is in the very self-emptying nature of our Lord, when He, while still remaining God, set aside the awesome nature of His Divinity so as to take upon Himself our human nature, with all of its weaknesses except sin, so that He may teach us what it truly means to be a child of God.

And I can only imagine the expressions on the faces of His disciples when Jesus held this young child in His arms and said, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me…”

Voluntary humility is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us as being “poverty of spirit.” And what did our Lord say about those who are “poor in spirit”? “…for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”

True humility is a virtue which is pure and selfless in thought, word and deed – and which enables us, through the grace of God, to avoid ambition and pride, and helps detach us from those worldly elements which tend to separate us from God’s Love.

In this sense, humility becomes the foundational element for our personal prayer life, for we freely acknowledge that we need God’s help in our strivings to be a holier and more virtuous people. Humility helps us to drain from ourselves the arrogance and pride which fractures our relationship with God.

And it is this fractured relationship about which James was referring when he wrote, “You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly.”

So the next time we are invited to a dinner or banquet, let us freely take the lesser important seat, even if it means ending up eating last. That is what Jesus would have done for Himself, and that is what He expects of us as well.

And may each of us, both you and I, always remember the image of that small child our Lord was embracing in front of His disciples. He asks that we become like this child in our way of thinking – poor in spirit, but rich in blessings!

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Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.

Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.

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Scripture for the Day

  • “[Jesus] sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.’(Mark 9:35)
  • “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
  • “Every proud heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured that none will go unpunished.” (Proverbs 16:5)
  • For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16)
  • “Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess…You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:1b-2a, 2d-3)
  • “‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ So submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts…Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.” (James 4:6c-8, 10; cf. Proverbs 3:34)
  • “[Christ Jesus], though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)
  • Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.’(Mark 9:36-37)
  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
  • [Jesus] called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, ‘…Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’(Matthew 18:2-3a, 4)

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Prayer for the Day

“Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty,

my memory, my understanding and my whole will.

“All that I am and all that I possess You have given me:

I surrender it all to You

to be disposed of according to Your will.

“Give me only Your Love and Your grace;

with these I will be rich enough,

and will desire nothing more.”

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

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