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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Child-likeness and Humility

Children at the time of Christ were considered to have the dignity that our secular culture gives the unborn. We know that those in the womb deserve absolute respect as human beings (which is why our city always takes part in the national campaign, 40 Days for Life, twice a year, officially starting Wednesday). But if you looked at the billboards in NYC or Chicago, you would see a very different sense of in child in the womb: a sort of take it or leave it. That small living person is important if you choose it to be, but you can choose otherwise and that's fine. As crazy as that sounds, this is exactly what is happening in our culture today, and it was similar for young children in Jesus' day. They literally had no rights: parents had free reign to do what they pleased. So it is quite amazing that Jesus calls us to be like children, but he meant something different. He was referring to some of the best qualities of children. First, they have a brutal honesty because we do not have any “adult sins” like careerism and public persona. Second, children live from a knowledge that they are loved, and that is all that matters. Being like a child means remembering precisely that: our identity, our self-worth, comes from the fact that we are loved into existence by God. It isn't from what we do, but from who we are: God says “you matter to me” every single moment you are breathing, and so you do.

However, every single one of us fails at this from time to time; in fact, more often than not we are living from our fallen human nature rather than our redeemed identity in Christ Jesus. This is because of original sin. G.K. Chesterton described this in a simple way: look at two babies playing together with a few toys. Eventually it will end up with at least one stealing & hitting, and at least one crying, sometimes it goes both ways. This is what the apostles are doing today. We are selfish and have to break that cycle to be true to who we are. Power, prestige, authority, and popularity are all things we want. Sometimes we want them so bad we will wish evil on others, like the first two readings suggest today: “let us beset the just one...he is obnoxious to us.” James reminds us: the wars and conflicts come from our selfish and envious hearts. Who says the spiritual life is a waste of time? If it has the power to stop 100 or even ten household fights every year, it certainly is worth it. Let us ask Christ to become like children.

One way that we can do this is a nice prayer to grow in humility called Litany of Humility. You can find the full prayer on my blog, but we will finish the holy by offering this prayer today.

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…

Amen.

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