Sunday, January 29, 2017

Seek Humility

By the late Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ*

Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth, who have observed his law; Seek justice, seek humility; perhaps you may be sheltered on the day of the LORD'S anger. Zephaniah 2:3

Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Matthew 5:12a

Piety brings closeness to Christ in our own lives. Christ calls the little people of the world. The Beatitudes express their littleness of his disciples. They also express the very personhood of Christ. He opens the scroll of Isaiah to chapter 61 when he comes back to his hometown and claims its meaning for himself. He has chosen the Messianic vision of the Suffering Servant as the truth of himself. The happiness from suffering in one’s life belongs to the realization of how close it brings one to Christ. Christ calls the little people of our world to be his disciples. The Disciples of Christ radiate a peacefulness t hat speaks volumes about the closeness of Christ in one’s life. God sent his only son into our world that by his suffering for us God would have the reason to love us because our piety allows us to claim the suffering of Christ for our own forgiveness. Our piety brings us to a genuine love of the Christ of the Cross. Our hearts love for Christ hears the call of discipleship as the call to take up our crosses of life and to follow Christ.

Paul says it as it is. We are neither wise by human standards nor powerful nor of noble birth. God chose the weak of the world to confound the strong. We learn not to boast on what we have done. We boast in the Lord who gives us his life as the forgiveness for what we have failed in by our weaknesses. We study Christ because Christ is the Wisdom of God. We learn how Christ is our righteousness by looking at how his life influences our lives. Christ is what makes our lives special in the closeness we have to him.

Our call to follow the Lord does not come from good looks, brains or wealth. It comes from the love of the Lord for us as we are. It is a great realization the day we discover the Lord loves us as we are. We do not have to do something to deserve his love. Love is a free gift that belongs to the one who opens their heart to love even as Christ has loved.Christ says it wonderfully. Love one another as I have loved you. Even as the Father has loved me, I have loved you. We are called to God’s love by the awareness that God is the perfect lover in his Son Jesus Christ.

No one can boast before the Lord. It is not for our merits that call God’s attention to us.  God chose the foolish of the world to shame those who would appear wise. The Blessed ones of our world are those who have nothing. God’s love shows through their weakness. It is hard to see God at work in our strength. We are able to live in his love when we love one another. God loved us so much that he sent his only Son to be one of us. God loved us so much that he was willing to be one of us and one with us.

The beatitudes reveal the bias of God for the Poor. The happiness in the Beatitudes belongs to those who reach out to one another with the love of Christ. Any Beatitude reveals something of the mind and the heart of Christ. He came for those who need him.He is speaking to us through his happiness at the plan of the Father. We follow Christ in living out those Beatitudes to the best of our ability. When we can say which one fits our happiness best, we know how we best belong to the Lord.

We shall not let the fear of poverty make us fear because we know in our poverty of Spirit that the kingdom of heaven belongs to us. We do not protect ourselves from the sorrows of those who suffer around us because we know we can be their comfort in the “worthwhileness” of what they suffer. We make friends of the meek because they will inherit the land. We search out what we can do for those that hunger and thirst for righteousness so that we can be satisfied with them. We show mercy to all that we might have mercy, What we put up with for the sake of Christ will be our claim to fame in heaven and we can rejoice and be glad at what might seem a dumb choice to others because we know that what we do for the sake of Christ will be rewarded in heaven by our closeness to Christ in this life. We might be a people humble and without great comfort in the eyes of the world, but we know by the beatitudes that the hundredfold from following Christ in all was just a beginning of happiness when we see what is waiting for us in heaven. The Lord sets us free in the peace that goes with the beatitudes as we follow Christ to his Cross.

Piety, study, and action all have to do with a closer walk with Christ. Our Christ life does not just happen in our lives. Our piety is the plan we have to walk more closely with the Lord by a real, down-to-earth living out of what we see in Christ. We need to study his life through the saints that make him real to us. In all ways, they are an update of how Christ would be alive today if he lived with us. We study how to best put into practice what we see in him. Our actions are in all the ways we are his hands and his feet. He had to die and rise so we could find him living in our goodness and growing in all the ways we are trying to imitate him by the good we do for one another. We gaze at Christ that we might become like him. We work out our lives so that we can say we no longer live, but Christ lives in us and we find our being in who He is in us.

* Based on reflections by Fr. Joe from this Sunday in the cycle. Requiescat in pace.

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