Posts Tagged ‘humility and meekness’

2 Corinthians 13: Weakness and Strengthsidewalkcrack-940x6263

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Following on the heels of yesterday’s Noontime we see the continuation of the theme of inversion which we always find when we seek Christ.

When we page through the Book of Sirach we come across many wise words about arrogance. In Sirach 10:7-16 we see that pride is a kind of domination over others: Odious to the Lord and to men is arrogance, and the sin of oppression they both hate.

We struggle for independence and compassion and too often create or find schism and haughtiness.

Let us spend time with Sirach today, and as we do we pray.

Mysterious and incarnate Christ, show us the power of humility and meekness.

Human and divine Jesus, guide us that we might see the corrupting influence of power and prestige.

Obedient and healing Christ, help us to understand that our cross is our pathway to you.

We strive for what we already have and this is the same lure that drew in Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden. We want to be like gods and we do not realize, or do not know or remember, that we find our own divinity in Christ. We do not realize, or do not know or remember, that we are one with God in the Spirit. We do not realize, or do not know or remember, that we have no need of little gods for we are, through the grace and kindness of Christ, one in union with God.

Paul reminds us that our weakness makes us strong, our poverty makes us rich.  This is the wealth we will want to store up. This is the power we will want to wield. Let us remember this message today and all days.

Adapted from a reflection written on June 14, 2008. Click on the image above for posts on perseverance and growth, or visit: http://theoutsidewithin.com/tag/plants/ 

2 corinthians 13

To learn more about the Book of Sirach, visit: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/s/sirach.htm

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joySunday, November 14, 2021

2 Maccabees 9

Joy and Arrogance

The Books of Maccabees unfold for us violence, rebellion, abhorrence and fear. We may be surprised to find that joy threads its way through these stories. As we examine the tales of the Maccabees family, let us consider how our own families are caught up in global and local affairs . . . and how miserable circumstances may well be hiding glimmers of joy . . . if we might only look. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy even when we suffer at the hands of the arrogant.

The effects of arrogance are far-reaching and long-lasting. Arrogance leads us into ourselves and a belief that we can resolve all conflicts and overcome all obstacles. Arrogance leads us away from God and a healthy understanding that ultimately, we cannot control all that touches and surrounds us. Arrogance is a wall the weak construct behind which to hide. Arrogance uses the tools of bullies, obfuscators and liars. Arrogance is not found in Christ himself, who showed us that humility and meekness before God lead us to truth, goodness and even immortality. Antiochus IV is one of history’s lessons on arrogance.

Verses 9:1-4: About this time Antiochus was retreating in disorder from Persia, where he had entered the city of Persepolis and had attempted to rob a temple and take control of the city. The people took up arms and attacked Antiochus, forcing his army to retreat in disgrace. He became furious and decided to make the Jews pay for the defeat he had suffered. So he ordered his chariot driver not to stop until they reached Jerusalem. With great arrogance he said, “I will turn Jerusalem into a graveyard full of Jews”. But he did not know that he was heading straight for God’s judgment. 

Antiochus falls ill on his way to eradicate the Jews.

Verses 9:7-8: But this in no way caused him to give up his pride. Instead he became more arrogant than ever, and breathing out fiery threats against the Jews, he gave orders to drive even faster. As a result he fell out of his chariot with such a thud that it made every bone in his body ache. His arrogant pride made him think he had the superhuman strength to make ocean waves obey him and to weigh high mountains on a pair of scales. But suddenly he fell flat on the ground and had to be carried off on a stretcher.

At last Antiochus capitulates to forces he knows he cannot control, and he decides to ask forgiveness of the people of Jerusalem in a letter which he writes to them.

Verses 9:20-21: I hope that you and your families are in good health and that all goes well with you. My hope is in God, and I remember with a deep sense of joy the respect and kindness that you have shown me.

We might see our neighbors, friends, work colleagues, loved ones or even ourselves in Antiochus today. Let us pause to consider how we might break the misery of arrogance that lives in the world’s power centers; and let us call one another to a new humility and meekness that Jesus shows us. As we reflect on the conversion of this intense and complex man, let us look for the joy that lives somewhere deep inside the most entrenched and ugly faces of arrogance.


More information can be found about Antiochus IV at: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Hanukkah/History/Antiochus_Madman.shtml and https://sawiggins.wordpress.com/tag/antiochus-iv-epiphanes/ 

For more Noontime reflections about this tumultuous time, enter the word Maccabees into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://sawiggins.wordpress.com/tag/antiochus-iv-epiphanes/

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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Isaiah 9Peculiarly God’s Own

Friday, July 1, 2018

We are accustomed to hearing this beautiful anthem at Advent and so these words feel odd to us in the northern hemisphere who experience Christmas in the cold and dark.  We are accustomed to frosty, long nights rather than warm, short ones when we think about God’s coming to live among us.   The people who walked in darkness cry out for light.  Isaiah’s people are lonely and afraid as they try to ride out the terms of their exile.  Today’s words must have felt astonishing to them, yet welcome.  These people who were accustomed to neglect and abuse must have felt a fluttering image come into focus of the life they had been promised.  The words we read in Isaiah today may even have taken them back to earlier words of promise in Deuteronomy that we heard in the first reading at Mass today (Deuteronomy 7:6-11): Moses said to the people: “You are a people sacred to the Lord, your God; he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be a people peculiarly his own.  It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations.  It was because the Lord loved you and because of his fidelity to the oath he had sworn to your fathers, that he brought you out with his strong hand from the place of slavery, and ransomed you . . .”    This small nation, these insignificant people are lifted up and redeemed by a God-hero.  Amazing words and deeds . . .

These words from today’s second reading (1 John 4:7-16) confirm our best hope: In this way the love of God was revealed to us: he sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.  In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son as expiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God loves us, so we also must love one another.   We who are oppressed or lost, we who are abandoned are redeemed  and brought back by a Wonder-Counselor.  Amazing words and deeds . . .

We hear welcome words from Jesus in today’s Gospel (Matthew 11:25-30): Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy and my burden light”.   This oppressed people, these burdened people are healed and transformed by a Prince of Peace.  Amazing words and deeds . . .

Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Prince of Peace . . . and yet this one is meek and humble and willing to take on so much that is not his to take.  This is the God who walks among us as one of us.  This is the one who can exert all power over all things and all people yet he stoops to us in humility and meekness . . . because this is how much he loves us.  Amazing . . . and wonderful . . . that we are peculiarly God’s own. 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 1, 2011.

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1 Peter 5:4-6: In Good Time

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Your life is not about you AND you are about life. (Rohr 133)

Our American culture does not encourage humility. Our impatience, arrogance and anxiety do not inspire modesty or self-effacement. The American experiment strives continually to present to the world a larger-than-life image. We will have to put this indoctrination aside if we wish to be good citizens of the world.

From the first letter of Peter: Beloved, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble. So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that God may exult you in good time. Cast all your worries upon God for God loves you. (1 Peter 5:4-6)

These are difficult words for many of us to hear. They are difficult to share; and they are difficult to put into practice; yet Richard Rohr, OFM reminds us that . . .

“All the truly great people persons I have met are characterized by what I would call “radical humility”. They are deeply convinced that they are drawing from another source; they are instruments. Their genius is not their own; it is borrowed . . . They live in gratitude and confidence, and they try to let the flow continue through them. They know that ‘love is repaid by love alone,’ as both St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) have said”. (Rohr 134)

If we have arrived to mid-life and have yet to learn that the multiverse does not revolve around our whims, we will have to learn this lesson before we are able to enter fully into kingdom work. Jesus demonstrates for us that strength comes from our willingness to think and act for the common good. The Spirit is always nudging us to heal others, to place our fears in God’s hands, and to be persistent in our eagerness to follow Christ.

Rohr points out for us these words from St. Paul: Your life is hidden with Christ in God. He is your life, and when he is revealed, you will be revealed in all your glory with him. (Colossians 3:3-4)

When we demonstrate our understanding that our goals are best achieved in God’s good time rather than our own, we reap the gift of modesty. When we put ourselves into proper proportion with all that surrounds us, we sow the gift of generosity. When we accept the paradox that we are something when we are nothing, we embody Christ for ourselves and others.

Today we practice the art of humility so that we might experience and share the common wonderful peace of Christ.

Enter the word humility into the blog search bar and explore.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

When we compare different translations of these verses, we open the door to meekness as practiced by Christ. We accept the gift of humility as given by God. And we experience the peace and love that only the Spirit can grant.

To learn more about how humility exalts us, click on the image from THE GREATER GOOD MAGAZINE: SCIENCE-BASED INSIGHTS FOR A MEANINGFUL LIFE at: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/humility_will_make_you_greatest_person_ever

Hands image from: https://www.notiziecristiane.com/la-commovente-preghiera-di-capodanno-scritta-da-un-contadino-sudamericano/ 


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Matthew 5:5: The Inverted Kingdom – Part III


Jesus Washing the Apostles’ Feet

Friday, January 13, 2017

Jesus proposes that we forego power and wealth, pleasure and honor. Today we consider the quality of meekness that Jesus so willingly exhibits as he walks among us.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (NSRV)

This vision of the world sees gentleness as a quality of those who are close to God.

Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised! (GNT)

This picture of the world sees kindness as an essential trait of those who live by God’s design.

Those who are humble are happy. The earth will belong to them. (ICB)

Giotto: Christ Washing the Disciples' Feet

Giotto: Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet

This view of the world sees humility as crucial to the living of God’s plan.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. (MSG)

This picture of the world sees physical possessions as stumbling blocks to intimacy with God.

The Gospels show us how God’s Word teaches us that meekness as authentic strength. They show us that Jesus returns anger with kindness, and responds to provocation with piercing questions. They show us that the Spirit nurtures sacrifice rather than acquisition.

How do we find strength in our meekness, and courage in our kindness? How willing are we to wash the tired feet of others?

Michal Splho: Jesus washing the Feet of his Disciples

Michal Splho: Jesus washing the Feet of his Disciples

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we better understand how humility provides us with far more peace than our possessions do.

For more reflections on meekness as enacted by Jesus, enter the word in to the blog search bar and explore.

To read a reflection about meekness as strength, click on the first image above, or visit: http://blog.newadvent.org/2013/05/meekness-is-not-weakness-meekness-is.html 

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Matthew 12: A Gentle Mastery

Saturday August 13, 2016gentleness_380_253_90

We see how Jesus heals; and we see how his comforting words and restorative gestures threaten the authorities who question how and why he is able to perform miracles. We hear the request for a sign; and we hear own words challenging Jesus’ goodness. We know that Jesus shows us The Way; yet we are not certain that we are up to his invitation. We are led and protected by our loving Creator; yet we hesitate to follow closely. We are imbued with God’s Spirit; yet we worry and defy God’s wisdom. Today’s Favorite is adapted from a reflection written on August 4, 2009.

At the close of Matthew 11 Jesus urges to give our burdens to him – for he is strong and we are weak, he is meek and humble, willing to carry not only our burdens but our beings.  This is how much we are loved.

Chapter 12 is one in which Jesus heals, preaches, confronts evil, explains how we might become vineyard workers with him, and describes his true brothers and sisters . . . us.  We see his gentle mastery of both deceit and goodness.  We are given a manual or road map to follow when we have questions or when we have lost our way.  Jesus does not deluge us with all the information we will ever need to live good and full and happy lives; rather, he gives us just enough information . . . just enough insight to get us to the next place in our journey.  He even asks that those who are healed not yet make public his identity . . . for it is not yet time for the entire plan to be revealed.

glassofwater-fullI heard a good homily this past week-end about Jesus’ gentle masteryMonsignor was expanding the idea that we best receive God’s messages when we are empty of self and most vulnerable.  He explained that we are like an empty cup or glass that God’s hand is moving toward a life-giving faucet to be filled with water that sustains us for eternity.  He asked us to search the Gospel to examine Jesus’ methodology, and then he pointed out that Jesus does not overwhelm his followers with so much information that there is a system overload.  Rather than turn on the water source full force which would splash the water out of the empty glass, Jesus turns the tap lightly – just enough to let the refreshing, healing water flow gently.  As I listened, I pictured myself putting an empty vessel under a full-flowing spigot . . . and I saw the water gushing everywhere . . . and never filling the glass.  I also pictured myself putting the same empty vessel under a gentle flow . . . and I saw the glass fill almost immediately.  There is more than enough when we take things as we can handle them.  Just so does God interact with us.

water into glassChapter 12 of Matthew gives us an opportunity to read this part of Jesus’ story with new eyes . . . the eyes of one who arrives empty, seeking to be gently filled.  And when we have had a full and good drink, we might turn to help those who follow behind.  We too, might . . . with patience and with care . . . become gentle masters who turn the tap softly for those who are empty and weak.

For an interesting reflection on Jesus and gentleness, click on the image of the bird in hands above, or visit: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/are-you-gentle-like-jesus 

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imam at Mass

Iman Sami Salem during Mass in Rome

Matthew 8:4: Tell No One

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

Scholars speculate about Jesus’ request that those he cures tell no one about their healing. We find this request in a number of places in Matthew: 12:15-16, 16:20, 17:9 and we notice that neither Jesus nor Matthew rebuke the exuberance of those who receive Jesus’ gift. In the HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY we find this statement: “[T]hough Jesus did not seek to attain ‘celebrity status’ for his miraculous powers, the effects of his works were simply too marvelous to be kept a secret”. (Meeks 881)

Perhaps we need to point this out to those who are our sports and entertainment icons. Celebrity is a gift to be treasured and used well.

monk and imam

Catholic monk welcomes Muslim worshipers in a church in Nice

Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, and he ordered them not to make him known. (Matthew 12:15-16) Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. (Matthew 16:20)

In the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE commentary tells us that, “To this [Matthew] adds a full citation from the First Servant Song (Is 42, 1-4) . . . emphasizing the meekness of Jesus, the Servant of the Lord, and foretelling the extension of his mission to the Gentiles”. (Senior 26)

Perhaps we need to point this out to those who would be our social or political leaders. Power is strongest when used in service to the poor and broken.  

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9)

Others speculate that Jesus was waiting until a particular moment to reveal his true nature to the world. Again from the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE commentary: “[O]nly in the light if Jesus’ resurrection can the meaning of his life and mission be truly understood; until then no testimony to the vision will lead people to faith”. (Senior 37)

Perhaps we need to point this out to our religious leaders. Influence is purest when used in the Spirit of the Living God.

And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. (Mark 8:27-30)

muslims catholics procession

Muslim faithful walk behind a religious man as they attend Mass in tribute to slain priest

Jesus asks his closest followers to refrain from announcing his presence to the world. From the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE commentary: “Jesus acknowledges this identification [as messiah] but prohibits [the disciples] from making his messianic office known to avoid confusing it with ambiguous contemporary ideas on the nature of that office”. (Senior 81)

Perhaps we need to point this out to ourselves. Humility, sacrifice, and an authentic reverence for the Way that the Living God asks us to live. These are the marks of authentic leaders and followers. 

Our modern society and instant global communication have brought a new tension to our lives; but they have also brought a rapid means of connecting with others in a positive and healing way. We must look for constructive strategies to form solidarity with those who carry the good fruits of Christ’s story into the world. “Tell no one,” Jesus said in the beginning of the ministry. Now that his resurrection has begun the transformation of the world, we must not lose heart. Now we must tell everyone we know the Good News that Jesus is among us, calling each of us to a life of faith, hope, peace and love.

Reprepsentatives of the Muslim comunity go to Catholic Mass at Milan's Santa Maria

Representatives of the Muslim community go to Catholic Mass at Milan’s Santa Maria

Today, let us consider an act of solidarity we might make with others as we speak to our own entertainment, sports, political, social, and spiritual leaders and ask for lasting peace that transforms society.

After the shocking murder of an elderly Catholic priest, Fr. Jacques Hamel, in France, the web brings us pictures and words of Muslims joining Christians in Catholic liturgies. For more on how these religious leaders work for solidarity in the name of peace, click on the images above or see: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36936658 or  http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/muslims-pray-catholics-french-priest-murder-160731131924563.html 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. Print.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. Print.   

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Hebrews 5:11-14 & 6: Resting in the Promise

Friday, December 4, 2015147975.hebrews (1)

You have become sluggish in hearing . . .

Notes from the NAB, page 1328: Rather than allow the slow to become content in their slowness, Paul exhorts them to even higher levels of spirituality.  He is not lenient.  And as for those who have fallen away completely, he does not even address these apostates.  If all we need is energy to progress in our spiritual journey, we can turn to Christ . . . for he tells us through Matthew (10:28-30), my yoke is easy, my burden light.  Christ himself exhorts us Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Sometimes we are not so much sluggish as afraid.  We know that the task lying before us is laden with tricky passages, dark corners, deceitful paving stones that look firm and yet sink into quicksand.  On these occasions we must also turn to Christ, trusting him when he says take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.  Disobedience is not an option for an apostle.

Paul tells us that Christ’s promise is immutable, and he uses the long story of the covenant promise between Yahweh and Abraham as ample proof.  Did not the elderly couple – Sarah and Abraham –   begin a kingdom of millions?  Did this new way of seeking God not travel to all peoples of all nations?  Do we not know even today the story of this Abraham, Sarah, and the high priest Melchizedek?  Paul reminds us that it is impossible for God to lie; his very goodness and honesty force him to keep his covenant with his people.

So when we feel weary or afraid, we might turn to Paul for a reminder of the words we can never hear too often.  This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil [into the Holy of Holies], where Jesus has entered as forerunner . . .

We must rest in this promise . . . that when all is dark . . . when all appears to be lost . . . when all is more difficult or more terrifying than we can bear . . . we must be still so that we might hear again . . .

Come to me . . . and you will find rest for your souls . . .

A Favorite from December 11, 2008.

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