Pastor's Note - September 1, 2013

From the Pastor’s Desk:

The first experiment I had in my Tertianship program (Jesuit program in preparation for final vows) in the Philippines, was to stay with a family in Navotas.  Navotas is a a community on Manila Bay.  Our host families were by and large squatters.  In living with poor families we were instructed by our Superior not to try to fix their problems but simply to receive their generosity.  In my first morning with my family of eight, three eggs were placed in front of me for breakfast.  Since no one else was eating, I thought the eggs were all for me.  So as not to be rude, I ate all of them.  I realized later that the three eggs were for me and the eight other people.  There were no complaints by the family members, rather they seemed even happier that I was enjoying myself so much.  In this Sunday’s Gospel the Lord is speaking to us of humility.

As Christians we often make a mistake with regard to humility.  Sometimes we think that humility means that we let other people treat us badly.  If God doesn’t want our neighbour treated badly, then neither does he want us treated badly, since we are all God’s sons and daughters.  So humility must be something different.  I think being a humble person is about living a real life.  Sirach writes that “many are lofty and renowned, but to the humble the Lord reveals his secrets.”  Our pride is most often an expression of our insecurity or fear, that is, ‘will I be accepted and loved as I am?’  And so we cover ourselves with titles and accomplishments.  For me these are unreal because they do not express our real value and identity.  We don’t have to succeed in order to receive.  Who does God see when he sees each of us?  Does he see the works of our hands or the one he fully loves?  When we were sent to Navotas it was to do nothing.  We weren’t sent to teach literacy.  We weren’t sent to build plumbing and access to water.  We weren’t sent to provide money.  We were sent only to allow ourselves to be cared for and to be loved.  It’s often harder for us to receive than to give.

To be humble is to be who we are.  To be humble is to live a life in which the flesh of our heart is open to others and to the world.  There is no need to encounter others or the world as competitors.  Divine love is not limited but is eternal. And so we don’t have to struggle against each other for value or identity because God’s love is fully given.  We need only to receive it.  In our mission statement we proclaim that we seek to do our part in building up God’s Kingdom.  Perhaps our part is to be a community of humility, to be persons with hearts of flesh.  We will live real lives – less walking in the shadow of pride, which comes from uncertainty, and more in the glory of the Father’s love.  St. Iraenaeus writes that “the glory of God is the human person fully alive.”  Let us be a community of the fullness of life.  Let us continue to be a community that lives, prays, worships and serves in the reality of love.

 God Bless & Take Care,

  Fr. John

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