In today’s Readings for The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we see the sublime truths of the power and need for humility to become Jesus Christ, who is meek and humble of heart. We see this reflected in the Old Testament reading from the Book of Sirach and in the Holy Gospel with its introductory Alleluia Verse. We see right from the Opening Prayer that we have goodness within us and we are asking the Father to nurture this within us, which He Created. We also realize since He is a loving and compassionate Father, that He watches over us and protects the goodness within us. This kind of prayer, as all true, good prayer does, requires humility. It takes humility to recognize He is the Creator, I am His Creature, son or daughter and that the goodness in me is from Him and not of my own creation. It also recognizes that while I am inherently good, which we learn in the Book of Genesis and all of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, expounded upon by St. John Paul II in Theology of the Body, we still need God’s Divine Grace to protect the goodness He created in me. This recognizes the right relationship with God and the goodness we have while still acknowledging our brokenness, due to original sin.
In the First Reading from the Book of Sirach chapter 3, we see the Lord calls us His children and for us to conduct ourselves in a humble manner. The translation we use in the Lectionary is from the New American Bible Revised version, (NABR). This version is fine, but the best I recommend to you is the Revised Standard Version (RSV), it is the most accurate English Translation from the original Hebrew and Greek languages. Verse 18 in the RSV says, “the greater you are, the more you must humble yourself, so you will find favor with God.” This is especially important for those of us who are in some kind of authority, like parents, teachers, priests and professionals, but all of us still need to learn for Jesus, who is meek and humble of heart. Our culture is focused on pleasing and exalting the self, which is not rooted in the meekness and humility of Christ, but the pride and arrogance of the self, which is a fruit of original sin.
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were created in original unity and nakedness without shame. This is the original goodness and holiness we were all meant to have, but Satan beguiled them and chose the self and grasp at God’s power rather than trust and wait for Him to give it to them in His Way. As soon as this happened they began confronting, challenging, blaming, controlling and dominating each other. Isn’t this the case in so many broken marriages today and broken relationships between the clergy and laity? Instead of availing ourselves to God and His healing sacraments, love, and graces, which fosters greater humility and meekness, we turn to methods of self-medication and escapisms in this life rather than going through the pain and allowing God to heal us, which eventually brings us His peace and joy. Look at how our nation is becoming more volatile, violent and addicted, we are not dealing with our suffering in the light of the life and Cross of Jesus Christ. We, as a nation, are trying to avoid the Cross rather than allowing Him to transform us with it. St. John Paul II teaches us in Theology of the Body that humility reflects the human dignity God bestowed upon Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in original innocence and upon us in the Garden of our mother’s womb. However, we need to learn how to receive this truth about who we truly are as adopted sons and daughters of the Father.
We need to realize that when we learn how to listen to God with an attentive ear and humbly beg Him to give us the grace to follow His Way to healing, we will attain joy. The RSV translation says that an attentive ear to God is the “wise man’s desire.” Do we desire the “escape methods” of the unwise world or the true meek and humble path to healing of Jesus Christ? We are all poor in need of God’s love, mercy and healing and our home for the “poor” (Responsorial Psalm) is in the Presence of God in Confession, Holy Mass and Adoration. All the sinning in the world, whether it’s fighting, killing, drug or sex trafficking or plain gossiping, is all about exalting the self and being prideful rather than taking the lowest place by humbling oneself. Jesus, who is God, is reminding us to follow His path of humility. It is the path He Himself took at the request of His Father to redeem us and that our repayment will be repaid “at the resurrection of the righteous.” But also, we do get “rewarded” on this earth with His Divine Grace whenever we follow and live His Life, as painful as it may be, because this “nurtures in us what is good,” as the Opening Prayer stated. The “greater you are” the more humble you must become, by choosing the road Christ chose for Himself and for those of us who call ourselves Christians. The lowest place is indeed the place of honor, because it is the place honored by Christ.
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Father Tom DeSimone was ordained a priest on May 13, 2006, the Feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. He most recently served as Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in White Plains, NY. He joins the staff of the Theology of the Body Institute on a three-year leave from the Archdiocese of New York, to become the Institute’s first full time spiritual advisor and Director of Clergy Development.