WEDNESDAY OF THE SECOND WEEK OF LENT
READ: MATTHEW 20:17-28
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day." Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, "What do you wish?" She answered him, "Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom." Jesus said in reply, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?" They said to him, "We can." He replied, "My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father." When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Our Gospel passage today speaks of one of the greatest attributes of Christ's followers: HUMILITY. The sons of Zebedee, as shown through the asking of their mother, wanted recognition. They desired power and a place of honor. But Jesus reveals to them the true mark of a disciple. As stated in the commentary in the New American Bible, "The two brothers nor the others understood that what makes for greatness in the kingdom is not lordly power but humble service". We may not ask Jesus to sit at his right in the kingdom, but each of us likely struggle with humility. St. Josemaria Escriva, in The Way, the Furrow, The Forge, listed 17 signs to help us identify whether or not we lack humility. Here are the signs:
"Allow me to remind you that among other evident signs of a lack of humility are:
Thinking that what you do or say is better than what others do or say
Always wanting to get your own way
Arguing when you are not right or — when you are — insisting stubbornly or with bad manners
Giving your opinion without being asked for it, when charity does not demand you to do so
Despising the point of view of others
Not being aware that all the gifts and qualities you have are on loan
Not acknowledging that you are unworthy of all honor or esteem, even the ground you are treading on or the things you own
Mentioning yourself as an example in conversation
Speaking badly about yourself, so that they may form a good opinion of you, or contradict you
Making excuses when rebuked
Hiding some humiliating faults from your spiritual director, so that he may not lose the good opinion he has of you
Hearing praise with satisfaction, or being glad that others have spoken well of you
Being hurt that others are held in greater esteem than you
Refusing to carry out menial tasks
Seeking or wanting to be singled out
Letting drop words of self-praise in conversation, or words that might show your honesty, your wit or skill, your professional prestige…
Being ashamed of not having certain possessions…"
Feel kind of bad now? Don't. Praise God for revealing to you the ways in which you need his healing and his mercy. And remember this: firstly, when Jesus calls attention to our sins, he is reminding us of our dignity. Our worth is not in how many people think highly of us, how many accolades we receive, how many people know our name, or whether we are right or not; our dignity is in the reality that we are sons and daughters of God. Our worth is revealed when we look at the cross, where Jesus shows us that our lives were worth everything, even his very life. When sin makes us forget that, let us turn back in repentance to be reminded of where our identity lies.
And secondly, when Jesus reveals a place of great temptation, like pride, he is calling us to be purified so as to live more abundantly. So many of us live lives enslaved by pride: bound by what others think of us, how we can get ahead, and our need to be right. But what Jesus says to us, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves" (Matthew 11:28-29). Jesus calls us to humility, for it is there that we find rest.
Which of St. Josemaria Escriva's 17 signs do you struggle with?
Do you seek attention because you fail to recognize your worth?
Have you experienced the "burden" of pride?
How does Jesus' life teach you about humility?
How can you deny yourself today so as to live more humbly?
Save me, O Lord, in your kindness. You will free me from the snare they set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God. I hear the whispers of the crowd, that frighten me from every side, as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life. But my trust is in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." In your hands is my destiny; rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
"We should daily ask God with our whole hearts for humility."--St. John Vianney
Start today by praying this Litany of Humility today. If pride is something that you really struggle with, consider printing this off and putting it on your mirror to say every morning.
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me. From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved... From the desire of being extolled ... From the desire of being honored ... From the desire of being praised ... From the desire of being preferred to others... From the desire of being consulted ... From the desire of being approved ... From the fear of being humiliated ... From the fear of being despised... From the fear of suffering rebukes ... From the fear of being calumniated ... From the fear of being forgotten ... From the fear of being ridiculed ... From the fear of being wronged ... From the fear of being suspected ...
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I ... That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease ... That others may be chosen and I set aside ... That others may be praised and I unnoticed ... That others may be preferred to me in everything... That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…
The Notre Dame community grieves the loss of beloved teacher, Michael Haskins. Please offer up a prayer today for the repose of his soul and for consolation for his family. Come, Holy Spirit, our Comforter.