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Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent




Gospel Mt 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”



REFLECTION


The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”


Humility is the pathway to becoming a saint.

There are many examples of saints with true humility.

In looking at some of these saints, we can see that they shared a common purpose, but used different means to practice the virtue of humility.


The Blessed Virgin Mother Mary, Queen of the Saints, humbled herself and wanted to serve God and to be the servant of all. Mother Mary's first mission after the Annunciation and her fiat was to hasten to serve her cousin Elizabeth. The words Mary spoke recorded in the Bible, The Magnificat, was evidence of her humility. She was sensitive to the needs of others as she proved in helping the wedding couple in Canna. She would also serve Jesus and His disciples during the three years he traveled to proclaim the Kingdom. Mary stayed by her son, Jesus, through His passion, crucifixion, death, and burial. She continued to help the disciples after Jesus' death, Resurrection, His Ascension, and in the Cenacle awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit. Mother Mary put God first and all of humanity above herself.


St. Joseph was a humble, quiet man, but a man of action. He was dedicated to serve Mary and Jesus. He would have divorced Mary quietly so she would not be stoned because of her pregnancy. But when the angel told him that Mary was chosen by God to bear the Messiah, he served and protected Mary and Jesus with his life until his final hour on earth.


St. Therese of Lisieux described her "Little Way" as a means to serve others with humility. She would do small things for others. Therese would attend to others' needs with great love no matter how they responded to her actions.


St. Philip Neri was a servant to the Roman youth and to the poor people. He would do things like shave half his beard off and allow others to laugh at him and he would laugh at himself. He said, "Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and helps us to persevere. A servant of God ought always to be in good spirits. Charity and cheerfulness, or charity and humility should be our motto." In confession if someone confessed the sin of pride, he would give them a penance that would humiliate them. This was how he taught them to think less of themselves and to become more humble.


St. Bernard of Clairvaux was a monk and a supporter of the Crusades. He was a Cistercian Monk and worked to restore the rule of St. Benedict for his order.

St. Bernard wrote 12 steps to humility which are:

1) Fear of God. (2) Abnegation of self-will. (3) Obedience (4) Patient endurance

(5) Disclosure of the heart (6) Contentedness is a form of acceptance. (7) Lucid self-awareness. (8) Submission to the common rule (9) Silence (10) Emotional sobriety. He said, “As patience leads to peace, and study to science, so are humiliations the path that leads to humility.”


All five saints had a servant's heart and put others before themselves. Mother Mary, St. Joseph, and St. Therese made their actions of service prove their humble love. St. Philip saw that humor and making others see themselves as they really are helped them to be more humble. St. Bernard showed that practicing his twelve steps was a disciplined approach to become a humble being.


Humility is the heart of holiness. Lowering oneself and not holding ourselves above others, always serving others before ourselves, obedience to a higher authority (especially to God), seeing ourselves as we truly are sinners and helpless beings who need God's mercy and grace; all are the attributes of the virtue of humility practiced by the saints. Jesus, Himself, was the perfect example of humility.


In conclusion let us pray and ask for the saints' intercession and for God's help to be humble. Let us not become like the Scribes and Pharisees who do not practice what they preach. Let us pray for all priests to be examples of humility and help God's people to become holy.


"God takes special delight in the humility of those who believe that they have not yet begun to do good." (St. Philip Neri)




















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