Our call to love is reiterated again for us today in the First Letter of John: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” (NAB, 1JN 4:7-8) If we wish to unite ourselves with God, then we must unite ourselves to love, and love is action.
We oftentimes think of romanticized love that conjures up all kinds of feelings and emotions, but love is action, putting another before ourselves. Love requires humility, where we recognize the inherent dignity of each other; we are, after all, each created in the image and likeness of Almighty God. Love implies commitment, dedication, and consistency. Even when one considers that moment of “falling in love,” it turns out not to be a moment at all. There isn’t one single thing that a person does for us that evokes such feelings and emotions. Rather, it is the consistent pattern of behavior over time that yields love; it is the continual presence and commitment of the other who is concerned for us and our wellbeing.
Jesus’ love for us isn’t a mere historical event or a single act revealed in a Roman execution. His love for us is continuous, without beginning or end. He is with us at every moment of each day. He continuously lays down his life for us, sustains us, showers us with his grace, gives us the gifts of the Spirit, comforts us, has mercy upon us, forgives us, and graciously blesses us in so many, many ways.
Lord, you call all people to yourself in love. It was this love which manifest itself so perfectly in your Holy and Sacred Passion, where you laid down your very life for me. Give me courage and strength through humility, that I may act according to your Holy Will, to love those whom you have put in my life, so that I may be more perfectly united to you. Amen.
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Humility is the surest pathway to sanctity, and at its greatest depth, humility is the recognition that God is God, and we are not. To this degree, Humility is Truth. It is this Truth that was violated by our First Parents, who fell to the temptation and believed the lies of the Evil one who said, “your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods….” (NAB, GN 3:5)
In fact, we are not gods, but we are servants of the One True God. Our faithfulness to him is borne out in our obedience to his Word and authentic teachings through the Church. Humility is the virtue by which we follow his will and relinquish our own. Humility is understanding ourselves to be created in his image and likeness merely because of his infinite love. This is how we know ourselves as his servants. The Great St. Augustine’s famous prayer, “Noscam Te! Noscam me” (May I know Thee; may I know myself).
Our Gospel today reminds us, “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” (NAB, LK 17:9-10) Father, give me the grace to recognize who I am, your beloved, and who you are, my loving Creator, the one who gives me all that I have and all that I am. Take my prideful heart and give me one of true servanthood, that I may always humbly do your will. Amen.
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Jesus tells us today in Mark’s Gospel of the widow who gave two copper coins to the Temple treasury. Jesus says that she gave more than everyone else because “they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (NAB, MK 12:44) The widow demonstrates sacrificial love by giving, not from her desires or wants, but from her needs. Furthermore, in contrast to the scribes who seek honor, prestige, and recognition for their generosity, the widow remains nameless and marginalized.
How are we as stewards? God blesses us with so much, including our finances, but also our time, energy, and talent. When we give of these, do we offer them in order to receive praise and honor? Is our charity about recognition and self-promotion, or is it about sacrificial love for a greater good? Let’s take time and examine our motivations, asking God to remove all pride and self-will, greed, and desires for excess from all we do.
Heavenly Father, all that is good comes from you, for you alone are good. Transform our lives in humility and sacrifice, so that we may serve you in love, and by loving our neighbor according to your will and for your glory. Amen.
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Today’s Gospel (LK 14:7-11) tells us not to seek places of honor for ourselves, not to exalt ourselves over others; rather, we are to remain humble. We all desire to be liked. We are social people, after all, but the problem arises when we think of ourselves as better than others and that we are more deserving of esteem and recognition.
It is so easy for us to fall into the trap of seeing what is good in our lives as “ours.” The truth is, that what we have and appreciate as good, our various talents, wholesome desires, and innate abilities, all comes from God. We did not give ourselves our DNA; we did not choose our parents, where we grew up, and under what circumstances we were raised; we did not orchestrate most of what has happened in our lives; and we were not the ones who wrote the desires, motivations, and passions on our heart that drive us to strive for holiness. We are mere inheritors of these gifts.
We are recipients of God’s grace, mercy, and love. Thus, it is God, and God alone who deserves honor for what others may rightly understand as “good” in our world, and we should remain humble, knowing ourselves as genuine cooperators with the Divine. May our lives always give glory to God, the Almighty and Supreme creator of all that is good.