Archive for the ‘Moses’ Category

God, in Trinity & History

August 24, 2016

This Monday, I dialogued with Muslims, Jews, and Unitarians in an online comments section. How’d it go? A Muslim man accused me of an “unforgivable sin” for espousing Trinitarianism. (I thought: “If that’s literally true, then that makes me less inclined to become Muslim. I mean, why bother?”) But the commenters were generally thoughtful and kind.

The blogger who hosts the website had written, “The Jews had no idea of the Trinity. Their faith was centred in the Shema: a unitary monotheistic confession.  Jesus clearly affirmed that very same unitary monotheism in Mark 12:29. [“Jesus replied, ‘The first (commandment in the law) is this: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord is one!”] How is it that Christians today have abandoned their rabbi on this point?” I felt moved to reply and what follows is based upon my responses.

A diagram of the ancient, orthodox, Christian conception of the Holy TrinityFaithful Jews recite the Shema prayer each morning and evening, quoting Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Is the oneness professed in this passage of God’s word irreconcilable with Trinitarian belief?

In declaring that “the Lord is one,” the Hebrew passage employs the word “echad” for “one.” Echad is often used to mean singularity, but sometimes the same word denotes a unified entity. For instance, in the Garden, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one (echad) flesh.” And again, at the Tower of Babel, “If now, while they are one (echad) people and all have the same language, they have started to do this, nothing they presume to do will be out of their reach.”

God could have selected a different word to be inspired for this passage, but the one He chose allows a providential flexibility. Echad permits the unified oneness of the Persons of the Trinity without requiring this reading from the Jewish generations who came before Christ. So, contrary to the blogger’s claim, when Jesus quotes the Shema it is not clear that He is affirming the very same unitary monotheism assumed by his ancestors. Interestingly, the “oneness” of God taught in Deuteronomy 6:4 leads to the conclusion that we ought to love God with the unified oneness of three aspects of ourselves. The immediately following verse reads: “Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.”

A Unitarian (a Christian who asserts God’s unity and rejects the doctrine of the Trinity) found this last observation interesting and asked me to recommend a book that makes a great case for the Trinity. To him, I replied:

I would suggest approaching the Holy Trinity in the same way the first Christians came to this knowledge; through Jesus of Nazareth. Some dismiss the Christology of John’s Gospel as later theological development, but even the Gospels thought to be written earlier show Jesus doing and saying things only God could rightly do (e.g., forgiving sins, declaring himself lord of the Sabbath, demanding an absolute total commitment to himself, etc.) A book I recommend that explores this is Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 “Jesus of Nazareth (Part 1)” In it, Benedict spends a good deal of time discussing Rabbi Jacob Neusner’s book, “A Rabbi Talks with Jesus.” The central issue that prevents that rabbi from believing in Jesus is the same scandal that led Jesus to his death: his revealing himself as God.
Trinity Symbol

To objections at Christians detecting in the Shema something which no Jews had previously held–indications of the Trinity–I answered:

In the course of the Jewish Scriptures, we can see God developing humanity along; from polytheism to monotheism, from polygamy to monogamy, from blood vengeance to “an eye for an eye.” That the LORD was not just one god among the many gods–but the only God, was a revelation His people learned over time. (For example, Moses must ask of God in Exodus 3:13: “If I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what do I tell them?”) When Jesus comes He extends the revelation further; “Love your enemies,” “What God has joined let no man separate,” “The Father and I are one.” My point is this: To argue Christian beliefs cannot be true because they were not previously known among Jews is like saying there cannot be only one God because this was not clear to the Patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel.

One Muslim asked whether the Old Testament prophets who did not know about the Trinity would therefore be worshiping an incomplete God. I answered:

All analogies touching on the Trinity fall short, but imagine being introduced to a friendly and engaging man at a dinner-party. In the course of your conversation you learn that he is a doctor, married, and has three kids. Now these things were true about the man from the first moment you knew him but you came to know him more fully with time. Likewise, God has always been a Trinity of Persons; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; acting, speaking, and revealing throughout history. Abraham and the prophets’ understanding of God were not as filled-out as in later generations, but they did indeed know and love and worship God. Of course, the parallel I’m trying to draw is not that God is one person wearing three different hats like that doctor-husband-father (which is the heresy of modalism.) I’m noting how Abraham and the prophets could enjoy true relationship with the Holy Trinity without yet knowing of that doctrine.

Trinity Icon based upon the original by Andrei Rublev, c. 1408-25

A modern icon based upon Andrei Rublev’s “The Trinity” (also called “The Hospitality of Abraham“) from the fifteenth century.

Consider the interesting episode of Abraham’s three visitors in Genesis 18: “The LORD appeared to Abraham by the oak of Mamre… Looking up, he saw three men standing near him.” Now two of this trio are later called angels (Genesis 19:1) but more precisely these are “messengers,” and the Son and the Holy Spirit do indeed serve the Father this way, revealing God the Father and his will among men. Did Abraham perceive in his guests what Christians suspect in retrospect, that this was a manifestation of the Holy Trinity? Maybe not, yet Abraham could still commune in God’s presence.

I think something that trips people up about Christianity is imagining God the Father as the sole Divine Person in the Old Testament, with the Son and the Holy Spirit only appearing later in the New. However, if the Trinity is true it has always been true, and the three Persons (possessing the same Divine Essence the prophets praised) have been active in the affairs of mankind throughout history. Christians reflect back on the Jewish Scriptures and see the Persons of the Trinity at work together. Our Nicene Creed professes that the Holy Spirit has “spoken through the prophets.” Look at the episodes where a “messenger” speaks in the divine first-person (e.g., Genesis 22:12, Judges 6:16 & 13:21-22) I would say Abraham and the prophets’ experiences of God were Trinitarian even if they did not fully grasp it then. I believe the same is true for all today.

“One on His Right, the Other on His Left”

March 24, 2015

Revealing fascinating prophetic connections between Moses, Joshua, Samson, and Jesus Christ on the Cross; featuring the religious paintings of James Tissot (1836-1902.)

Prophetic Perseverance — Friday, 7th Week of Ordinary Time—Year II

February 28, 2014

Readings: James 5:9-12, Mark 10:1-12

Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered.

St. James recalls that the prophets endured the complaints, criticisms, and condemnation of their brothers and sisters. The Hebrews repeatedly complained against the prophet Moses in the desert, displeasing God and earning his serious chastisements. Perhaps Moses realized the ‘hardness of their hearts’ would incite them to reject any mandate of God’s original intention for marriage as an unbreakable lifelong union, thereby incurring severe condemnation. Yet, “blessed [are] those who have persevered” in keeping their marriage vows—blessed by God’s granting of needed graces and blessed by accepting these graces—those whose spousal “Yes” means “Yes.” What a prophetic witness their faithful love is to the world!

Lingering Before The Lord — Tuesday, 17th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

July 26, 2011


During the Exodus, the Lord’s presence would descend in a cloud upon the desert tabernacle called the tent of meeting. All the children of Israel would worship at the mouth of their own tents while Moses and his young assistant Joshua went in before the Lord. After speaking with the Lord, Moses had to leave to tend to the responsibilities involved in leading God’s people. Joshua, however, remained behind to pray, give thanks, and intercede for others.

God was pleased with Moses for the time he could spend with Him, blessing Him with a radiant light. He was also pleased with Joshua for lingering after. He would later select Joshua to lead the people after Moses’ passing because he was a man like David, “a man after God’s own heart.” Sometimes we can’t come to Mass early or linger after because of the demands of home and work and that’s ok. But if you can and do spend extra time with the Lord, know that this pleases Him greatly and helps you yield a greater harvest for Him.

Broadcasting Our Faith — Thursday, 15th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

July 14, 2011

At Easter time, my sister, Laura, and I used to watch documentaries about Christianity on TV. On the one hand, it was cool to see Jesus Christ talked about on channels like CNN and the History Channel. On the other hand, they couldn’t seem to present on the Christian faith without giving at least equal airtime to doubt. Laura and I enjoyed mocking their seemingly unrelenting skepticism:

“Jesus of Nazareth died nailed to a cross… or did He?”
“Every Easter, Christians around the world celebrate their belief that Jesus rose from the dead… or do they?”
“We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors… or will we?”

Last night, ABC’s Nightline had an episode about the Virgin Mary and various apparition sites.  As I expected, the show both pleased me and annoyed me. I was pleased they had almost seven minutes about the shrine of Our Lady of Champion, near Green Bay—the first Church-approved Marian apparition site in our country. This was great, because the better the shrine is known the more good it shall do. On the other hand, I was annoyed by the show in various ways; for starters, by the Nightline episode’s title: “Beyond Belief.”  I was also annoyed by some of the things they included people saying.

I know that being interviewed isn’t easy. Expressing yourself like you want to can be hard, and video editing can take your words out of context, but here are some things they had people saying.  The doctor of a boy who was found to be free of leukemia the day after they visited the Green Bay shrine, was asked whether it was a miracle. He said, “The medicine did its job.… No matter what, God can’t work in the care of this child unless he works through somebody.” The narrator then referred to this metaphysical assertion, regarding what God can and can’t do, as “science.”

Later, the opinions of two, so-called experts were given. The first had written a book entitled From Jesus to Christ. (The book title was itself a red flag because it implies that the real historical Jesus of Nazareth got mythologized into the Christ of faith by later Christians. The Jesus of history and the Christ of our faith are one in the same.) She said, “When I think of the historical Mary, I think, first of all, of a very tired mom. Jesus could have been her fourth or fifth child for all we know. There’s absolutely no data in the New Testament itself to even tell us that.” (Actually, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke describe Mary as a virgin and Jesus as her firstborn Son.) A second expert said, “I’m not really big on the virgin birth as being scientifically viable.” (I wonder if he considers Jesus’ Resurrection, or any other miracle, to be scientifically viable.)

Then the show’s host, who seemed to me more ill-informed than malicious, went on to say, “After her death, early Christians hungry for information on the mother of their Messiah, began filling in Mary’s biography, with more stories like this; that she too was Immaculately Conceived, that her body was assumed to heaven like her Son’s, but the truth is that there’s no evidence to support any of these traditions.” First, he conflates the miracle of Jesus’ virgin birth with Mary’s Immaculate Conception. That’s a common error. Second, it’s just not true that there’s no evidence of Mary’s Assumption. For instance, the mere fact that Christians claim to have bones from all of the Holy Apostles, while no one at anytime anywhere has claimed to have hers, points to something. That’s not an incontrovertible proof for Mary’s Assumption, but it is some evidence for what all Christians were convinced about from the earliest times. The fact that people keep seeing her in compelling apparitions is some evidence too.

On the whole, I thought the show was a net plus; it did more good than harm, but it goes to show that we can’t rely upon the secular media to proclaim the Gospel for us. A person whose only source is secular television is not likely to come to faith. We need to step up as individuals and give witness to others about who God is and what He has done for us. As the psalmist says:

“Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his signs, and the judgments he has uttered.”

Moses hesitated to speak to others about God. He said, “When I go to the children of Israel… what am I to tell them?” The Lord said, ‘Tell them, ‘I am who am.’ You shall tell them that I-Am-Who-Am sent you to them.’ Likewise, the one true God is asking you to witness to Him before others. Ask the Holy Spirit for the grace and you will soon receive the opportunity to witness to Jesus Christ and the good things He has done.

Born Under the Law — Tuesday, 15th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

July 12, 2011

The story of Moses prefigures the life and works of Jesus Christ. St. Paul tells the Galatian Christians, “[We,] when we were not of age, were enslaved to the elemental powers of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption.”

The elemental powers St. Paul speaks of are the devil and the demons who powerfully and harmfully influence the world. Pharaoh and his evil reign image Satan, the demons, and their works. The children of Israel strained under the law and it brought them death. But, when the fullness of time had come, God sent a child, born of a woman, born under that law. That child, who would image person and works of Jesus, was Moses.

As long as he remained a quiet, sleepy newborn, the mother of Moses could hide him, but after three months her son began to loudly and frequently cry. With a pain that pierced her to the heart, she laid her son in the waters of death, hoping against hope, that she would receive him back safe. And, like Mary the mother of Jesus, God miraculously brought her son came back to her alive and safe. For what purpose was Moses was born under the law?—to ransom those under the law, so that they might receive God’s adoption. The Hebrews were known as the children of Israel, but they were to become the people of God.

Moses was destined to lead them, but in his youth, he was still unready. (His actions towards the Egyptian taskmaster make this clear. The one who would lead the people into the Promised Land, the one who would prefigure the Christ, could not to have an undisciplined and violent character.) After decades in a hidden life of preparation, Moses confronted Pharaoh and brought out the Israelites, not by force of arms, but by God’s power.

Moses led them into a new covenant relationship with God, who declared to them, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” Through Moses, the Israelites were made God’s people. Through Jesus Christ, we are made God’s children. Let us recognize, that as much as Jesus is greater Moses, so the gift of the New Covenant is greater than the Old. As amazing as mighty deeds and graces of God were in the age of Moses, remember that these are all greater in the age of Jesus Christ.

“He Is Not Here” — Easter Vigil

April 23, 2011

When the women came to the tomb they did not find Jesus, but a radiant messenger. He told them, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here.…” The tomb was empty, Jesus was not there.

Jesus was present at the beginning of creation, for through Him all things were made. Going forth from the Father’s mouth, He was at hand on earth throughout the ages, achieving His purposes.

He was mystically with Noah, who saved his family from death by building a ship, just as Jesus built the Church to save us.

He was mystically with Isaac, who, though bound and led to sacrifice, was not to be lost forever.

He was mystically with Moses, who freed God’s people from Pharaoh’s demonic slavery by leading them through miraculous waters.

He was mystically with all the prophets, in proclaiming a law to be written on hearts instead of stones, in promising the gift of a Holy Spirit from Heaven, in suffering at the hands of those who refused to hear wisdom.

He has been in His saints, from the least to the greatest, throughout the centuries to this very night. He is present here in all of us who are ‘living for God in Christ Jesus.’

By the all foreshadowings that proceeded His coming, and by the fruitful witness of all His saints ever since, we can confirm the angel’s words, “he has been raised just as he said.”

Jesus is not there in the empty tomb. He is here,  tonight, with us.

Prayer is Necessary — 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C

October 17, 2010

As the Hebrews fought the Amalekites, Moses held up in his hands, above his head, the wooden staff of God. In doing this, He resembles Jesus, who outstretched his arms on the cross, and the priests of Christ’s Church, who raise their hands up to Heaven.  Each one, Moses, Jesus, and His priests, offer prayers to the Father.

As long as Moses kept his hands raised up,
Israel had the better of the fight,
but when he let his hands rest,
Amalek [the enemy] had the better of the fight.

What would have happened if Moses had kept his arms just down at his sides? God’s people would have lost their deadly battle. What would happen if Jesus were to stop pleading for us at right hand of the Father in Heaven? We would be left all on our own. What would happen if priests were to no longer to offer the Mass? The Church would be deprived of graces. If Moses, or Jesus, or the priests of the Church were not persistent in prayer, souls would be lost. The same is true for you and I as individuals.

If you or I wish to be saved, it is necessity for us to pray always without becoming weary. As St. Alphonsus Liguori, a doctor of the Church, said: “He who prays is certainly saved; he who does not pray is certainly damned. All the saints in heaven, except infants, were saved because they prayed; and all the damned in hell were damned because they did not pray, and this is their greatest torment to see how easily they could have been saved, had they prayed, and that now the time for prayer is over.”

Prayer is how we grow in our relationship with God. And Heaven consists first and foremost in an intimate relationship with Him. But, if we do not pray, we will not have much of a relationship with God, and Heaven will not be a place where we really want to live. It is essential that you commit yourself to praying every day, ‘whether it is convenient or inconvenient.’

To remain committed to this, ask the help of other to strengthen you and keep you faithful to prayer. Moses had the help of Aaron and Hur, at his right and his left. Jesus had the help Mary and John, at the foot of His cross. The priest celebrating Mass has the help of God’s people, those in the church on earth and those in the Church in Heaven. So have your spouse, your children, and your friends to pray with you and keep you faithful to prayer.

Families should pray together, parents with their children. This will instill the Faith in them more than anything else.  And Fathers need to take the lead, for if only Mom prays with the children they will wonder, “Why doesn’t Dad pray, too?”

Couples should also pray together.  A couple that prays together every day a divorce rate less than one percent. And it makes sense, because if I know that someone is praying for me, that they’re willing my true good, then even if there are rough spots between us, I know that we’re on the same side. So before you leave the house, or before you go to bed, pray together as a couple; even if it’s as simple as a moment of silent prayer. Remember that the family that prayers together, stays together.

It is necessity for us to pray always without becoming weary, as families and individuals, for “He who prays is certainly saved; he who does not pray is certainly damned.” So pray every day, because our souls depend on it.

Outstreched Hands — Monday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

September 6, 2010

The Lord said to Moses in Egypt, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall upon the entire land…” Moses stretched out his hand, and the Lord rained down hail upon their enemies.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt, that locusts may swarm over it and eat up all the vegetation and whatever the hail has left.” Moses stretched out his hand, and the Lord sent locusts upon their enemies.

Finally, the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand, over the sea, that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and their charioteers.” Moses stretched out his hand, and the Lord hurled their enemies into the sea.

Centuries later, the Lord Jesus Christ said to a man in the synagogue, “Stretch out your hand.” The man stretched out his withered hand and it was healed, but the scribes and the Pharisees were enraged and plotted against Jesus. This time, it was not the Lord’s enemies who were to bear the terrible onslaught, but the Lord Jesus Himself. Jesus realized this, and freely accepted it, for the sake of you and me.

August 14 – Vigil of the Assumption of Mary

August 17, 2009

When I was younger, I used to wonder why Mary was such a big deal. It wasn’t that I was against her or anything. I prayed Hail Mary’s to her, and I wasn’t out to deny anything our Church said about her. I just didn’t understand why we, as Catholics, honored her so much.

Some people say that Mary is no big deal, that she’s just another Christian.  They might point to today’s Gospel as evidence, where a woman from the crowd calls out to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that carried you, and the breasts at which you nursed.”  And Jesus replies, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” “So you see,” they would say, “it’s nothing special to be the mother of Jesus.” But in this Gospel Jesus is not denying Mary’s greatness, He is rather affirming it.

If Mary had merely been the biological mother of Jesus, delivering Him, and nursing Him, she might have been just another Christian. But Mary is most blessed among the disciples of Christ, of which she is the first, because she heard the word of God and observed it. She heard the word of God from the angel Gabriel and answered,

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.”

The overwhelming evidence for Mary’s exceptional glory, and her unique loveliness, is to be found throughout the Bible. The two Testaments, the Old, together with the New, show us why Mary is worthy of our great admiration and deserving of our special affection.

In the first reading we heard of the ark, the ark of the covenant, which you may remember seeing in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The ark was a wooden box, plated with gold inside and out, with two gold statues of winged angels on its lid.  This box, the ark, was carried about using two long polls, since men would be struck down if they touched the holy ark. The ark bore the presence of the Lord, it was His throne amidst His people.

The Lord had told Moses, who constructed the ark, according to the Lord’s precise specifications, to have some interesting things placed inside of it.  First, the wooden staff of Aaron, which had miraculously grown shoots and blossoms. Second, the two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments which were written by God’s own hand. And third, an urn full of manna, the food which the Lord had given his people to eat during the Exodus.

That was the ark of the Old Testament.
Mary is the ark of the New Testament.

As the ark was a box of wood, plated with precious gold, inside and out, so Mary was a human being, surrounded and filled with divine grace. Like the dead wood of Aaron’s staff, which (naturally speaking) should not have borne life, the Virgin Mary miraculously blossomed life within her. Unlike the written word of God in stone, Mary carried within her the eternal Word of God in flesh. Mary borne within herself the true bread from heaven, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the first reading we heard how David led the ark of God’s presence into Jerusalem.  The ark’s coming to Jerusalem is also commemorated in the psalm we heard.  Jerusalem is sometimes poetically referred to as Zion, since Mt. Zion was the place of the temple in Jerusalem.

Just as the Lord’s presence came into Zion, the presence of the Lord came to dwell in Mary. Nine times out of ten, whatever Scripture says of Zion or Jerusalem, also goes for Mary. Mary is Jerusalem.  She is Zion.

“For the Lord has chosen Zion;”
says the Psalm
He prefers her for his dwelling.
Zion is my resting place forever;
In her will I dwell, for I prefer her.”

And, nine times out of ten, whatever can be said of Mary, also applies to Christ’s Church. Mary is the icon of the Church.

So, as you can see, Mary is a big deal. And none of us is more admirable, praiseworthy, and sweetly loveable than her.

‘Therefore her heart is glad and her soul rejoices,
her body, too, abides in confidence;
because God did not abandon her soul to the netherworld,
nor would He suffer His faithful one to undergo corruption.’

He assumed His beloved into heaven. Thanks be to God, who gave Mary this victory over death, through her Lord and ours, Jesus Christ.

August 8 – St. John Marie Vianney

August 17, 2009

For many years, around 300 people would travel by train each day to a small town of 230 people. Why did they come? They came because they sought the mercy and counsel of Christ in the confessional of John Marie Vianney. Why did Father John 12 to 17 hours a day sitting in his confessional? He was there because he believed that this sacrament was that important.

Today we often hear people say, “Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest when I can just pray to God directly? It’s like the complaint of Aaron and Miriam in the first reading,  “Is it though Moses alone that the Lord speaks?”

Jesus, in the upper room, breathed on his apostles and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Did Jesus give them this authority and power for no purpose at all?

Jesus gave us the sacrament of reconciliation because we need it. Confession prevents my sins from just being between me and myself. It prevents me from making mountains into molehills, and molehills into mountains. It allows me to know with absolute confidence that this sin of mine is forgiven forever. When we go to confession we acknowledge the Incarnation, that Christ redeemed us in His flesh, not merely by composing a prayer to the Father.

If you are too shy to admit your sins to a priest, who won’t know who you are, and couldn’t tell another soul even if he did, then what makes you think you will have the poise to stand face to face with Christ at the judgment?

When Miriam and Aaron sinned, they turned for mercy to the Lord’s servant, Moses, and their sin was healed. If you have neglected confession, please come. There is mercy, peace, and God’s help awaiting you.

If you already go to confession with some frequency, then please offer a penance today for the conversion of sinners. St. John Vianney did penances for conversions because he was convinced that it made a difference.

In the Gospel we heard that every sick person who came and touched Jesus’ cloak was healed, but those sick people first had to be brought to Jesus. Help carry them.

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.”