Monday, October 30, 2017

Nov. 5, 2017 - The Greatest is a Servant

The Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time A

Reading I:  Malachi 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10

Psalm:  131

Reading II:  1Thessalonians 2:7b-9,13

Gospel:  Matthew 23:9b, 10b

As a child, I can recall my father calling someone “down to earth.” I had a sense that, that made a person likable, but I didn’t dwell on it.  In this week’s Gospel, it seems that St. Matthew is reinforcing the teaching of Jesus about humility when he insisted on washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper.

Another common positive comment I recall is that a person has his/her “feet on the ground.”  In contrast, the scribes and Pharisees, mentioned in the Gospel, are looking for prestige, elevating themselves above others. They forget that they are children of the same heavenly Father as everyone else on the earth. They are his creatures with varied gifts for the sake of all.

Humility comes from the Latin word Humus which means “ground” or “earth.” When a person truly acknowledges that he/she is a creature of God, others are seen as brothers and sisters. Some, like St. Francis of Assisi, even called animals and other creatures their brothers and sisters. Being grounded doesn’t mean that we deny the gifts we have. We just know where they came from...our Heavenly Father. We just thank the Lord for the gifts and use them for the good of others as well as oneself.

Nevertheless, the temptations of pride are very strong. I recall the saying that our pride dies 10 minutes after we do. How do we deal with it then? Let us remember that all people are children of God and respect and treat them as we would like to be treated. I can recall, as a child, decorating one of the covers of my school notebook with the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If people followed the Golden Rule today, we would have peace within ourselves, our families, our country, and the world.

Another safeguard is not taking oneself too seriously. The ability to laugh at oneself is a very healthy sign. Some Native American tribes use humor to remind one another that they are just human and not to act as if one is superior to another.

Of course, the ability to ask the Lord for the grace to see oneself as one truly is — with strengths and weaknesses like all humans — is a wonderful gift. When vain thoughts or selfish desires assail us, we can just turn them over to the Lord and ask him to replace them with his spirit of humility.

 Reflection Question:   For me personally, what is the best way to conquer my pride?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

El Más Grande es un Sirviente

Cuando era niño, recuerdo que mi padre llamaba a alguien “con los pies en la tierra”. Tenía la sensación de que eso hacía que una persona fuera agradable, pero no insistí en ello. En el Evangelio de esta semana, parece que San Mateo está reforzando las enseñanzas de Jesús sobre la humildad cuando insistió en lavar los pies de sus discípulos en la Última Cena.

Otro comentario positivo común que recuerdo es que una persona tiene sus “pies en el suelo”. En contraste, los escribas y fariseos, mencionados en el Evangelio, buscan prestigio, elevándose a sí mismos por encima de los demás. Se olvidan de que son hijos del mismo Padre celestial que todos los demás en la tierra. Son sus criaturas con regalos variados por el bien de todos.

La humildad proviene de la palabra latina Humus, que significa “tierra” o “tierra”. Cuando una persona verdaderamente reconoce que es una criatura de Dios, otros son vistos como hermanos y hermanas. Algunos, como San Francisco de Asís, incluso llamaron a los animales y otras criaturas sus hermanos y hermanas. Ser castigado no significa que negamos los regalos que tenemos. Solo sabemos de dónde vienen ... nuestro Padre Celestial. Simplemente agradecemos al Señor por los regalos y los utilizamos para el bien de los demás y de uno mismo.

Sin embargo, las tentaciones del orgullo son muy fuertes. Recuerdo el dicho de que nuestro orgullo muere 10 minutos después de que lo hagamos. ¿Cómo lidiamos con eso entonces? Recordemos que todas las personas son hijos de Dios y respetémoslos y trátelos como nos gustaría que nos traten. Puedo recordar, cuando era niño, decorar una de las portadas de mi cuaderno escolar con la Regla de Oro: “Haz a los demás lo que quieras que te hagan a ti”. Si las personas siguieran hoy la Regla de Oro, tendríamos paz dentro de nosotros mismos. , nuestras familias, nuestro país y el mundo.

Otra salvaguardia es no tomarse demasiado en serio. La capacidad de reírse de uno mismo es un signo muy saludable. Algunas tribus nativas americanas usan el humor para recordarse mutuamente que son solo humanos y no para actuar como si uno fuera superior a otro.

Por supuesto, la capacidad de pedirle al Señor la gracia de verse a uno mismo como uno realmente es, con fortalezas y debilidades como todos los humanos, es un regalo maravilloso. Cuando los pensamientos vanos o los deseos egoístas nos asaltan, podemos simplemente entregarlos al Señor y pedirle que los reemplace con su espíritu de humildad.

 Pregunta de reflexión:   Para mí personalmente, ¿cuál es la mejor manera de conquistar mi orgullo?


  1. “Would you like ice cream for dessert, Rev. Mother?” “What did the sisters have?” “Rice pudding,” replied the sister serving dinner to Mother Katharine. “Then I’ll have rice pudding,” replied Mother Katharine.
    This story was told to me by Sandra Brandt, ASBS, who facilitated the orientation of my ASBS group several years ago. I have never forgotten it because it gave me such insight into Mother Katharine Drexel’s personality. Mother Katherine sought no privilege above the sisters. Several stories have come down by word of mouth and in each circumstance, St. Katharine Drexel always took the last place.
    You touch on pride and humor in your post. In the book, "15 Days of Prayer with Saint Katharine Drexel," Leo Luke Marcello writes, “Our pride tempts us to see ourselves as more important than we are and to expect more than others because of such self-importance. A healthy sense of humor may help us to remember our place in the greater scheme of things. Everything passes away. What really matters will ultimately be found in the eternal hands of God if we let the Spirit carry us.”
    In the chapter on Humility from the above mentioned book, it is noted that, “The more importance one attaches to oneself, the heavier the ego becomes. The overweight ego ceases to see itself as it really is.” I chuckle at the thought of an overweight ego. Perhaps the real obesity epidemic we are experiencing in our world is that of so many overweight egos fighting to be number one. “People who see themselves as the most important person in the world are inevitably going to be in conflict with all of those others who also see themselves as Number One.”
    Katharine Drexel operated out of the principle of humility. One story from the "15 Days of Prayer…" tells of a visitor who came to see her. He approached a sister scrubbing the floor on her hands and knees and asked where he could find Mother Katharine Drexel. Mother Katharine looked up and identified herself! Imagine the shock of the visitor. She absolutely walked the talk, “Be humble, since whatever you are, whatever you have and whatever you do for yourself and others proceeds from a pure act of God’s mercy and the assistance of His grace (Reflections on Life in the Vine).”
    Saint Katharine Drexel lived the Gospel message of this week’s reading, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” It is written that, “She saw humility as an indispensable ‘help’ toward every virtue.” She herself wrote that, “There is no virtue without humility. Humility becomes a foundation; it is not an end in itself. “
    The chapter on humility ends with the following maxim of St. Katharine Drexel, “A dose of humility, increased daily over a lifetime, will make us light enough to be carried by the Spirit, honest enough to understand our place, and childlike enough to be carried into the ocean of mercy and love.”
    So, to answer your reflection question, when my pride surfaces its ugly head, I remind myself of the teachings and examples of Jesus, and, as a result of my affiliation with St. Katharine Drexel, I recall her humble lifestyle and pray her words, “O Divine Spirit, I wish to be before You as a light feather, so that Your Breath may carry me where You will.” Pat C., ASBS

  2. Excellent advice! All those observations and explanations are appreciated. I particularly noted that reference in the fourth paragraph urging us to "remember that all people are children of God and respect and treat them as we would like to be treated." It certainly would be heavenly if more people followed the Golden Rule, wouldn't it?

    The Catholic Culture Dictionary defines humility as follows:
    "Humility - the moral virtue that keeps a person from reaching beyond himself. It is the virtue that restrains the unruly desire for personal greatness and leads people to an orderly love of themselves based on a true appreciation of their position with respect to God and their neighbors. Religious humility recognizes one's total dependence on God. Moral humility recognizes one's creaturely equality with others. Humility is not only opposed to pride. It is also opposed to immoderate self-abjection which would fail to recognize God's gifts and use them according to His will."

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains a connection between humility and prayer as follows: "Humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge that 'we do not know how to pray as we ought' are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer."

    "It was pride that changed angels into devils. It is humility that makes men as angels." St. Augustine