Archive for the ‘Humility’ Category

Jesus Washed Their Feet

March 10, 2016

Jesus Washing Peter's Feet by Ford Maddox Brown, 1852-6.[Jesus] loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. … So, [during the Last Supper,] he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. … So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.

—The Gospel of John, chapter 13

In 1955, Pope Pius XII inserted an optional washing of the feet rite into the Mass of Holy Thursday, the liturgy which commemorates the events of the night before Jesus died. This foot-washing rite is called the Mandatum (from the Latin for “the Mandate”) for Jesus said, “as I have done for you, you should also do.

Though the rubrics (that is, the rules for the liturgy) required no specific number of persons to have their feet washed in this optional rite, they indicated that the participants were to be men. This year, this rite which recalls Christ’s humble gesture of service and charity has been revised by a decree promulgated by Pope Francis. Where this rite is celebrated, pastors are to “select a small group of the faithful to represent the variety and the unity of each part of the people of God. Such small groups can be made up of men and women, and it is appropriate that they consist of people young and old, healthy and sick, clerics, consecrated men and women and laity.”

In past years, it has often been difficult to find people to humbly “bear their soles” on Holy Thursday but perhaps it may be a little easier this year. If you would volunteer to take a seat in this year’s washing of the feet, please contact Father so that he may create a representative group of our faithful.

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The Value of Humility: Living in the Truth Before God

December 14, 2015

“Some [spiritual beginners] make little of their faults, and at other times become over-sad when they see themselves fall into them, thinking themselves to have been saints already; and thus they become angry and impatient with themselves, which is another imperfection. Often they beseech God, with great yearnings, that He will take from them their imperfections and faults, but they do this that they may find themselves at peace, and may not be troubled by them, rather than for God’s sake; not realizing that, if He should take their imperfections from them, they would probably become prouder An Ancient-Style Oil Lampand more presumptuous still. They dislike praising others and love to be praised themselves; sometimes they seek out such praise. Herein they are like the foolish virgins, who, when their lamps could not be lit, sought oil from others.”

—St. John of the Cross in The Dark Night of the Soul

The Seven Deadly Sins & Seven Lively Virtues

March 6, 2014

Pride is lowered by Humility

Envy is opposed by Admiration

Wrath is tamed by Forgiveness

Sloth is stopped by Zeal

Greed is relinquished by Generosity

Gluttony is moderated by Asceticism

Lust is controlled by Chastity

Which lively virtue will you focus on growing?

 

Tempting Christ — 1st Sunday of Lent—Year C

March 3, 2013

Today’s Gospel from Luke is preceded by Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan. There, Jesus is revealed to be the Anointed One awaited by God’s people. The Anointed One is called the Messiah in Hebrew and the Christ in Greek. It was foretold that the “Anointed One” would have God as his Father in a unique and intimate way. This “Anointed One” was prophesied to come and be the savior, the champion, and the liberator of God’s people.

“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days…” Here, before the start of the public ministry of Jesus, in the silence and solitude of this desert retreat, the thoughts and prayers of Jesus were probably about his mission ahead. At this time the devil comes to tempt him. The devil wants to influence the kind of Christ that Jesus will be in hopes of derailing his mission from the start.

The devil says, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answers, “One does not live on bread alone.” What would be the evil in Jesus making this food? If he uses his power to meet his own needs, then the devil will ask “How can you refuse the needs of other people?” The devil wants Jesus to become an economic savior, a materialistic Messiah.

Jesus has compassion for our human condition–he knows it from his own first-hand experience. Jesus commands us to show his love to others by caring for their bodily needs. And when we do this it is Jesus acting through us. But if Jesus’ first mission had become to satisfy all material human needs, then Jesus would have been a Christ of bread alone, and we cannot live forever on bread alone. Making all of us wealthy wouldn’t be enough to make us holy, and so Jesus refuses the first temptation.

Then the devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and says, “I shall give to you all the power and glory…. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” And Jesus answers, “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” The devil offers Jesus an alternative to a life of obedience to his Father and in service to all. Jesus can become the world’s dictator whose own will must be done, if he would simply worship the devil.

This is the devil’s promise, but the devil is a liar. Making a deal with him gains nothing but loss, yet even if Jesus knew the devil would keep his word Jesus would have none of this. Jesus does not come to control us, but to invite us. He does not want to dominate us, but to persuade us to love. God seeks our loving response, and a response in love cannot be forced, so Jesus rejects the second temptation.

Then the devil takes Jesus to a high place and says, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for God will command his angels to guard you, and with their hands they will support you….” And Jesus answers, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”

Here the devil argues that Jesus should expect to be protected from suffering and be preserved from death. But Jesus was sent and came to die and rise for us. Without these things how would we have been saved? Jesus trusted the Father’s will, even in suffering and death, and so Jesus refuses the third temptation.

God often works in ways that we wouldn’t imagine or choose for ourselves. We would wish that everything in life would be easy and painless. We wish our temptations and sorrows did not afflict us. But a doctor’s cure is given according to the disease he finds. After the Fall of mankind, God intends to save us through the difficulties and struggles of this life.

Our growth in holiness can be slow and our sufferings may be difficult. However, we should never despair. Our struggle has rewards and our suffering has purpose. We know this because of Jesus, who endured temptations just like us and for us.

El evangelio de hoy es precedido por el bautismo de Jesús en el Jordán. Allí, Jesús se revela como el Ungido esperado por el pueblo de Dios. El ungido es llamado el Mesías en hebreo y Cristo en griego. Fue predicho que “el ungido” sería tener a Dios como su Padre de una manera única e íntima. Este “Ungido” fue profetizado ser el salvador, el campeón, y el libertador del pueblo de Dios.

“Llenos del Espíritu Santo, Jesús volvió del Jordán y fue llevado por el Espíritu al desierto por cuarenta días…” Aquí antes del inicio del ministerio público de Jesús, en el silencio y la soledad de este retiro desierto, los pensamientos y las oraciones de Jesús fueron probablemente sobre su misión por delante. Entonces, el diablo viene a tentarle. El diablo quiere influir en el tipo de Cristo que Jesús va a ser, con la esperanza de desbaratar su misión desde el principio.

El diablo dice: “Si eres Hijo de Dios, di a esta piedra que se convierta en pan”. Y Jesús responde: “El hombre no vive solamente de pan”. ¿Cuál sería el mal en la fabricación de este alimento? Si Jesús usa su poder para satisfacer sus propias necesidades, entonces el diablo le preguntará “¿Cómo puedes negar las necesidades de otras personas?” El diablo quiere Jesús para convertirse en un salvador económico, un Mesías materialista.

Jesús tiene compasión por la condición humana y él lo sabe por su propia experiencia. Jesús nos manda a mostrar su amor a los demás por el cuidado de sus necesidades corporales. Y cuando hacemos esto, Jesús está actuando a través de nosotros. Pero si la primera misión de Jesús había sido la de satisfacer todas las necesidades materiales humanas, entonces Jesús habría sido un Cristo de pan solamente, y no podemos vivir para siempre en el pan solo. Haciendo todos nosotros ricos no sería suficiente para hacernos santos, y así Jesús rechaza la primera tentación.

Entonces el diablo muestra a Jesús todos los reinos del mundo y le dice: “Yo te daré todo el poder y la gloria …. Todo esto será tuyo, si me adoras. “Y Jesús responde:” Adorarás al Señor, tu Dios, ya él solo servirás “. El diablo ofrece a Jesús una alternativa a una vida de obediencia a su Padre y servicio de todos. Jesús puede convertirse en dictador del mundo, cuya propia voluntad se debe hacer.

Esta es la promesa del diablo, pero el diablo es un mentiroso. Haciendo un trato con él no gana nada sino pérdida, sin embargo, incluso si Jesús sabía que el diablo cumpliría su palabra de Jesús no quiso saber nada de esto. Jesús no viene a controlarnos, sino para invitarnos. Él no quiere que nos dominen, sino para persuadir al amor. Dios busca nuestra respuesta de amor y una respuesta en el amor no puede ser forzado, y así Jesús rechaza la tentación segundo.

Entonces el diablo lleva a Jesús a un lugar alto y le dice: “Si eres Hijo de Dios, arrójate desde aquí, porque Dios mandará a sus ángeles para que te guarden, y con sus manos te apoyan….” Y Jesús responde, “No tentarás al Señor, tu Dios.”

Aquí el diablo argumenta que Jesús debe esperar a ser protegido de el sufrimiento y ser preservado de la muerte. Pero Jesús fue enviado y vino a morir y resucitar por nosotros. Sin estas cosas, ¿cómo hemos sido salvados? Jesús confió la voluntad del Padre, incluso en el sufrimiento y la muerte, y así Jesús se niega la tercera tentación.

A menudo Dios obra de maneras que no nos imaginamos o elegir por nosotros mismos. Nos gustaría que todo en la vida iba a ser fácil y sin dolor. Queremos nuestras tentaciones y sufrimientos no nos afligen. Pero la curación de un médico se administra de acuerdo a la enfermedad que encuentra. Después de la caída del hombre, Dios quiere salvarnos a través de las dificultades y las luchas de esta vida.

Nuestro crecimiento en la santidad puede ser lento y nuestro sufrimiento puede ser difícil. Sin embargo, nunca debe desesperarse. Nuestra lucha tiene recompensas y nuestro sufrimiento tiene un propósito. Lo sabemos gracias a Jesús, que sufrió tentaciones como nosotros y por nosotros.

The Babel Project — Friday, 6th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

February 18, 2011

Why did God break up the Babel project? What was wrong with lots of people working together toward this common goal? Perhaps the problem was that they were trying to “make a name for” themselves, that is, a new identity for themselves, different from their status as God’s human creatures. Building up to heaven, they were trying to become as gods without God. The tower of Babel was a temple for the worship of themselves. God broke up their endeavor because of the harm it would have caused to themselves and to the world.

That city, in itself, was no threat to God above.  The Lord had to “(come) down to see the city and the tower that they had built.” God was untouchable, invulnerable, and immortal. But this changed in history, with the Incarnation. The Son of God became touchable, vulnerable, and mortal. He did this not only to save us, but also so that our human nature could be transformed to something greater.

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down from Heaven as tongues of fire. He rested upon them and they began to speak in languages that people of any nation could understand. They were temples of the Holy Spirit. They were a holy city, whose foundation is God.

As St. Augustine wrote, the City of Man and the City of God exist side by side in this world. The City of Man is imaged by Babel. The City of God is imaged by the Church. The City of Man is destined for destruction, but the City of God will endure forever.

The Rich Fool — 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C

August 12, 2010

I regret to inform you that you are going to die. Perhaps not today, but someday, and it could be very soon. We should ask ourselves, “Am I ready? How can I prepare?”

The Gospel relates the story of a man who was not ready, a man God calls a “fool.” Jesus offers Him as an anti-role model; a person whose example we should learn from, but not imitate. Yes, he is a fool for hoarding his possessions. The old saying is true, “You can’t take it with you.” But there are more subtle lessons we can learn from his bad example. This morning I would like to present three things this rich man has to teach us:

The first lesson comes from what he does when his land produces a bountiful harvest. He asks himself, “What shall I do?” There is nothing wrong with this question in itself, but he is a fool in the way he asks it. The rich man asks himself, and only himself, “What shall I do?” He does not consult with God, in either his conscience or in prayer, to learn what His will is.

What is the lesson here for us?  Let us remember to listen to the Lord as He speaks in our conscience, through prayer, the Scriptures, and the people He has placed in our lives. We should listen for God’s direction every day, and throughout each day.

A second cautionary lesson is found in the rich man’s plan for solving his storage problem. He says, “This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.” What was wrong with the older barns? They were not large enough to hold everything, but why tear them down? The rich man has plenty of land. Why did he want to replace his perfectly good barns?

Vanity of vanities, he wanted his storehouses to be the newest, the biggest, and the best. Though the rich man was not very concerned about other people, he was very concerned about their high opinion of him. Even in those days, people were tempted to consumerism.

Consumerism seems to consist in two phantom promises: that having just a little more will truly give me lasting happiness, and that others will regard, accept, and love me when they notice the things that I have. These are phantom promises, for as soon as one reaches to grasp them they prove empty, illusory, receding further out of reach.

The fact is that the people who are happiest in life are not the wealthiest. (By that measure, pretty much every American should be among the happiest people in the world.) The happiest people tend to be those who share the most or give the most away. The person who recognizes they have enough, that life does not consist in possessions, is content and secure enough to share. Some people try to get the most out of life as possible, but what we appreciate most in our lives is the ways in which we have given of ourselves for others.

Our third cautionary lesson is heard in God’s rebuke of the man: “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” When we think of the things the rich man has prepared, we think of his harvest and goods.  One of the things he has ill-prepared… is his soul, which this night will be demanded of him. And now, to whom will it belong?

The lesson here for us?  As focused as we are upon our possessions, we must be more attentive to our souls. Someday, we are going to die. In the meantime, then, let us put to death, the parts of you that are earthly, as St. Paul said: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.

What lessons does the rich man teach us? Reject the false promises of the consumer cult, for life does not consist in possessions. (Self-gift is the meaning of life) Turn your heart to your spiritual well-being, for your life and this world shall pass away.  And to frequently ask Jesus, everyday, “What shall I do?” Let us begin today, before it is too late for us to begin living wisely.

Augustine on Humility — Thursday, 15th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

July 18, 2010

A Thought on Humility from St. Augustine:

‘You are to “take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” You are not learning from me how to refashion the fabric of the world, nor to create all things visible and invisible, nor to work miracles and raise the dead. Rather, you are simply learning of me: “that I am meek and lowly in heart.” If you wish to reach high, then begin at the lowest level. If you are trying to construct some mighty edifice in height, you will begin with the lowest foundation. This is humility. However great the mass of the building you may wish to design or erect, the taller the building is to be, the deeper you will dig the foundation. The building in the course of its erection rises up high, but he who digs its foundation must first go down very low. So then, you see even a building is low before it is high and the tower is raised only after humiliation.

Humbly Rising High — July 15 — St. Bonaventure

July 18, 2010

St. Bonaventure became the master-general of the Franciscans 31 years after St. Francis of Assisi himself. He was renowned for his learning and later named a Doctor (or great teacher) of the Church, yet he was also humble. When the pope sent his representatives to inform Bonaventure that he had been named a bishop and cardinal they found Bonaventure washing the dishes. The saint told them to hang the red hat on a tree and to wait in the garden until he had finished the task.

St. Bonaventure reassures us, that whatever our gifts, holiness is within our daily reach. “A constant fidelity in small things,” he once wrote, “is a great and heroic virtue.”

In today’s gospel, Jesus invites us to take his yoke. This burden is restful, easy and light, yet we must be humble; we cannot carry it without Christ by our side. Beatitude (true happiness) is within everyone’s reach, but we cannot possess it without God.

As St. Bonaventure says:

No one can be made happy unless he rise above himself, not by an assent of the body, but of the heart. But we cannot rise above ourselves unless a higher power lifts us up. And divine aid is available to those who seek it from their hearts, humbly and devoutly.

Getting Slapped — Monday, 11th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

June 16, 2010

Jesus taught:

“…Offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.”

Should we always offer no resistance to those who would do evil against us?

Notice that each of the examples Jesus gives are of injustices that do no real lasting harm. If you are slapped on the cheek, it stings awhile, but in a few minutes you’re fine. Even Jesus’ disciples owned spare clothes–we know because He told them to leave their second tunics behind when He sent them two by two. There is no lasting harm until your last tunic or cloak is taken. (cf. Exodus 22:25-26) In those days, Roman soldiers could force Jews to carry their gear for up to a mile down a road. Jesus teaches that one should go the extra mile for these enemies and occupiers.

In each example Jesus gives of offering no resistance to evil-doers, the affliction is felt in one’s pride more than anywhere else. Jesus is teaching us to be humble when people wrong us in small ways, so that they will be struck by our magnanimous patience and strength and be converted.

But what if the evil someone would do to us would do us grave and lasting harm? Should we offer no resistance then? Two incidents for Jesus’ life come to mind. When the money changers and animal sellers were doing business in the temple’s court of the Gentiles, profaning it and impeding the nations’ worship of the One True God, Jesus resisted. He made a whip out of cords and drove out the people who were doing what was evil. On the other hand, in the Passion, Jesus offered no resistence. He let His enemies slap Him, strip Him, and force Him to carry a cross.

It seems that there are times when we are called to resist evils for the sake of the common good, and times when we are called to accept evils, even grave injustices against us, in the pattern Jesus Christ. Let us trust the Holy Spirit to guide us to know when is the time for which.

Christ in the Sacraments — 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C

June 15, 2010

To understand today’s gospel, it helps to know a little about the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day.  For example, when the Jews would sit down to eat dinner they would not sit at all–they “reclined at table,” on beds that came up the edge of the table. You would have a cushion under your chest or under your side, as you ate with your free hand, with your legs laid out behind you. This clarifies how the beautiful, penitent woman was able to access to Jesus’ feet. This also explains how John was able to lay his head upon Jesus’ chest at the Last Supper to ask Him who would betray Him. The Beloved Disciple was not a contortionist–he was laying beside Jesus at table.

A second important thing to know about the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day to appreciate this gospel is to understand how they felt about feet. The Jews considered feet to be among the dirtiest, humblest, and lowliest parts of the human body. This is why our parish’s patron, St. John the Baptist, said, “[There is] one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” In that Jewish culture, servants could not be commanded to wash the feet of others; it was considered even beneigth the dignity of a slave. Now we can understand the significance of the woman washing Jesus’ feet, and how much it means that Jesus later washed His disciples’ feet at the Last Supper.

But what was this woman thinking? Had she forgotten to bring a towel and a bowl of water at home? Was she so dumbstruck that her lips were unable to form the simple words, “I’m sorry and I want to return to God?” No, she knew what she was doing when she used her tears to cleanse, her hair to wipe, and her lips to kiss Jesus’ feet. When she heard that Jesus was going to be eating at the house of Simon the Pharisee I doubt she was holding that alabaster jar of ointment in her hands. No, she had to go and get it, and as she did she thought about exactly how she was going to approach Jesus.

What was Simon the Pharisee thinking? Had he forgotten about the customary curtesies in welcoming guests to one’s house in that culture: water for washing their own feet, oil for anointing one’s head against the harshness of the desert, a kiss in greeting at the door? Maybe he thought these were just optional, dispensible rituals. Regardless, Jesus put his finger on one major contributing factor: Simon the Pharisee loved Jesus little, while the beautiful penient woman loved Him greatly.

Simon gave Jesus an external gift, a meal in his home, but in addition to her ointment, the woman gave a gift of her very self; her tears, her hair, her kisses. As she had sinned with her body, she now sought to honor God though her body.

How does all of this apply to us? When we consider this beautiful, penitant woman and Simon the Pharisee relate to Jesus, we see two approaches the sacraments. For some, in the manner of Simon the Pharisee, the sacraments are just rituals, traditional customs, liturgical hoops the Church has us jump through. But for others, those with the heart of the woman who loved much, every sacrament is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. If you onlt remember one thing from this homily, remember this: every sacrament is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

Consider the sacrament of marriage. Today, some people say, “As long as we love each other, what difference does a ceremony in a church and a piece of paper make?” But these people do not realize that the sacrament of marriage actually makes present the love between Christ and his Church. The love between husband and wife not only resembles the love between Christ and his Church–like all the sacraments, marriage actually makes present. If your marriage is sacramental, and you and your spouse do not put up obstacles in the way, you can experience firsthand to love with which Jesus loves His bride, the Church, and how the bride receives her Lord. You experience the intimacy between the two and you can tap and draw on their love and the power in your marriage. marriage is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

Today, some people say, “I don’t really have any sins, but if I did, why should I have to go tell my sins to a priest to have my sins forgiven? God can hears my prayers. Won’t he’ll forgive me anyway.” Imagine if the penitent woman had stayed away from Simon’s dinner party that night in the gospel and prayed to God at home. Would she have been forgiven? Perhaps, but she would not have had her life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ. When you go to confession, you are personally encountering Jesus through the priest. If the priest does not put up obstacles in the way you will hear the words of Christ to you. And even if the priest does get in the way, you will hear that words that Jesus wants you to hear, just as He had said to the beautiful penitent woman: “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace.” The sacrament of reconciliation is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

These days some people say, “There’s a lot of Sundays in the summertime and a lot of things to enjoy on the weekend. Is it really that important that we come to Mass every Sunday?” To ask this about the most Blessed Sacrament is to be like Simon the Pharisee. Had Jesus not come as his guest that night, Simon would not have missed Him much; Simon would not have been that disappointed. And even after receiving Jesus under his roof, I can imagine Simon being left unchanged. But the beautiful penitent woman, who took Jesus’ flesh to her lips, was forgiven her sins and was filled with grace by the encounter.

In the celebration of this sacrament, and at every sacrament, let us appraoch Jesus with her humility, reverence, and love.

Tuesday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

November 25, 2009

The prophets go beyond what is seen, to reveal what is hidden. Their purpose is to lead people to God.

In the first reading, Daniel reveals what was seen in the king’s dream. In the Gospel, Jesus reveals what will be seen in Jerusalem and at the end of this world as it no stands. In this homily, I will reveal to you three prayers hidden within the Mass which are always present there, but which you may have never heard before.

The first of these hidden prayers comes after the presentation of the gifts. A few of the faithful bring forth the bread and wine to the altar. It is no empty chore. This symbolizes the offering of all your gifts and of your whole lives to God.

I receive the gifts and then I say a prayer of praise to the God of all creation for this bread which we have to offer. Yet before I go on to a similar prayer with the cup of wine you may have noticed something unusual. The priest takes the water and pours a little into the cup of wine. It’s only a few drops, and the wine appears unchanged, but the water and wine have become inseparably one. As he pours, the priests silently prays this:

“By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

You and I will always be God’s finite creatures, but, by the Incarnation, Jesus has made Himself inseparably one with our humanity. It is Jesus’ desire to make us more and more like His divine self through our personal union with Him.

What is the lesson for us here at Mass? We should come to each Mass with high expectations. Do you believe that your whole-hearted participation in this sacrament can make you a better, more beautiful, or more admirable person, and do powerful things for our world? Approach this sacrifice with high expectations. On this point St. John of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux agree: “We receive from God as much as we hope for.”

After these prayers for the bread and wine, you will see me bow at the altar. At this moment comes the second hidden prayer. The priest prays:

“Lord God, we ask you to receive us and be pleased with the sacrifice we offer you with humble and contrite hearts.”

What is the lesson for us here at Mass? We should strive to be fully-present at every Mass. Pray the Mass and sing the songs with your whole heart. Offer God this sacrifice with humility, contrition, gratitude and love.

After this comes the washing of the hands and a third silent prayer. The priest prays:

“Lord, wash me of my iniquity; cleanse me from my sin.”

I pray this prayer from particularly from the heart because I do not want my offering and partaking of this most holy sacrament to be the cause of my condemnation and death on account of my sins. (If you think of it, pray for your priest as he washes his hands, that He may offer this sacrifice well for you.) Approaching our all-holy God is serious stuff.

What is the lesson for us here at Mass? If you are aware of serious sins on your soul, come to  confession, the sacrament of reconciliation. Come and be cleansed. Lighten your burden. Do it today.

The prophets go beyond what is seen, to reveal what is hidden. Their purpose is to lead people to God. Through the revealing of these holy prayers I pray you be led to closer to our Lord Jesus Christ at this very Mass.

Thursday, 28th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

October 15, 2009

Have you ever noticed how unpopular the  prophets are? That’s because it’s usually the prophet’s job to point out peoples’ sins to them and to tell them they have to change. Some people, particularly the arrogant and the wicked, respond very badly to this, like the scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel.  When Jesus left the home of the Pharisee, after having criticized them strongly but in private, they

“began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.”

These scribes and Pharisees, whose fathers had hated and killed the prophets of old, would go on to bring all that blood upon themselves by killing the Wisdom of the prophets Himself.

The question I would like you to consider today is how you respond to criticism or correction directed at you.

The book of Proverbs teaches,

“Reprove not an arrogant man, lest he hate you; [but] reprove a wise man, and he will love you.”

And a translation of Psalm 141 says,

“If a good man strikes or reproves me it is kindness.”

 A wise man does not respond to correction angrily. He knows that “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God,” so he is not threatened by the suggestion that he is not perfect yet, that he still has areas for improvement.

The wise man evaluates correction with detachment. If the criticism is valid, or at least well intended, he receives it as a loving act and is grateful for it. And when the criticism is nonsense, the wise man doesn’t let it get to him. Why should the ungrounded opinions of foolish, fickle people have power over us, to rile us up, or provoke us to the sin of personal hatred?

Let us ask Jesus for the grace to receive valid criticism with humility, and for the grace to be merciful with those who criticize us unjustly.

Tuesday, 19th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

August 17, 2009

The disciples ask, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus says, “Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” In fact, Jesus teaches us, becoming humble is essential to entering into His kingdom.

So what is humility?

“Now humility is nothing but truth,” says St. Vincent de Paul, “while pride is nothing but lying.” He says, “The reason why God is so great a lover of humility,  is because he is the great lover of truth.”

Now humility is not about believing we are garbage. It’s a lie to say we’re of little worth. Even the seemingly least person among us is attended to by angels and bears a likeness to the God whom those angels ceaselessly worship. We are of great worth, but to be humble we need to know where our true treasure is.

We must abandon over-confidence in our own faulty and limited powers and trust in our reliable Rock—“how faultless are his deeds, how right all his ways.” In Christ, our Rock, we are secure; and as G.K. Chesterton notes, “It is always the secure who are humble.”

To strip away our illusions and to know our true treasure let’s pray today for the two gifts which it is said God always promptly gives whenever we prayer for them: Humility and Faith.

We can be leery of praying for humility, because when you pray for humility, humility shows up. I myself cannot recall a time when my prayer for humility was not answered by the end of the next day. But let’s have courage, and not allow our entry into Christ’s Kingdom be delayed by our disordered self-love or timidity.

What Moses said before the Israelites on the edge of the Promised Land is just as true for us: “It is the Lord who marches before you; he will be with you and will never fail you.  So do not fear or be dismayed.”