Sunday, September 25, 2011

With Faithfulness and Justice

September 26, 2011

Monday of the Twenty-Sixth Day in Ordinary Time

I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun. I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem. They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice. Zechariah 8:7-8

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest." Luke 9:47-48


The first step of humility, then, is that we keep "the fear of God always before our eyes (Ps. 36:2)" and never forget it. We must constantly remember everything God has commanded; keeping in mind that all who despise God will burn in hell for their sinful ways, and all who fear God have everlasting life awaiting them. While we guard ourselves at every moment from sin and vices of thought or tongue, of hand or foot, of self-will or bodily desire, let us recall that we are always seen by God in the heavens and that our actions everywhere are in God's sight and are reported by angels at every hour.
(Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 7, "Humility.")


Society likes to focus on people's weaknesses and flaws. Television magnifies these "un-realities." The Weakest Link. The Bigger Loser. Popular culture like to emphasize what people oppose. Anti-gun. Anti-war. Anti-abortion. Christianity does just the opposite. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the weak. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice. Christianity and Christ reward the weak and vulnerable. Christians promote what they are FOR. Pro-life. Pro-peace. Pro-love. Pro-justice.

Jesus does not side with kings and principalities. He sides with the smallest children -- who also are among societies most humble and vulnerable. Jesus got his start as a small child and never lets us forget that fact. He may have come to save us from ourselves, but as Mary and Joseph gazed upon the helpless infant in the manger, do you ever think that they could envision the back of this baby made weak by the weight of the sins of the world? Our sins.


As football season gets under way and baseball winds down, we will often hear talk about the Redskins v the Cowboys or the Yankees v the Phillies or Red Sox. Players will hold hands and pray that the last-minute field goal will split the uprights. However, God is not concerned with such trivial matters. We are to imitate the Lord in his covenant and today the prophet Zechariah holds up that mirror to show us that the qualities of most concern to the Lord are faithfulness and justice.

We cannot do this if we are concerned about our own glory -- or the glory of the Burgundy and Gold. As St. Paul reminded us in the second reading on Sunday, "Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others."

Such humility -- like that of a child -- betrays our selfish ego and impulses. We can complete our joy by being "of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing" with Christ. This humility will not drive us to be successful, or efficient, or effective. The Lord only asks us to be authentic in this mission of faith and justice. The internal love of our God and for our God propels us to do good for others and not fight over who gets to sit next to him in Heaven. We are propelled one step at a time. What will be your first step this week?