Friday, April 24, 2009

Favor for the Humble

First Reading: 1 Pt 5:5b-14
Psalm: Ps 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17
Gospel: Mk 16:15-20

The Feast Day of St. Mark


Today's reading is a bit different from those of late. It is less of a direct testimony to the miracle of the Resurrection and more of a warning for those who already accept Jesus as Lord.

Clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for:

God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. - 1 Peter 5:5b-6
Our reminder here is that we must be cautious in our thoughts and our words. When someone is brought back to the faith, it is not because of the superior intellect of his Christian friends. When a miracle is performed, or an apparition to a seer, it is not because of the power of the seer or mystic. Those that begin to see the mighty works done through them as their own begin down a very dangerous path, into pride.

Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. - 1 Peter 8-9
The devil has power in this world, though he does not have authority. He can speak truths, scattered among his many lies. His skill to manipulate words and twist their meanings is very powerful, but his end goal is always our separation from God. He seeks to do this little by little, with a little sin here, and a dose of pride there. Pride is his own favorite sin and arguably his chief tool against us. As the demon Screwtape said in the works of C. S. Lewis:
He must be made to feel 'how different we Christians are'; and by 'we Christians' he must really, but unknowingly, mean 'my set'; and by 'my set' he must mean not 'The people who, in their charity and humility, have accepted me', but "The people with whom I associate by right'. - The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis
We must remain humbled in our salvation, remembering that our acceptance into the family of God is not because of some great work of ours. Our sins are not less numerous than those of many who do not follow Christ. The moral difference between any Christian and the lowest sinner on earth is that the Christian turns to God and humbly admits his sin and asks for mercy; something that the sinner could (and we pray would) do in a moment. We cannot demand salvation because of our own goodness or works, but God gives it freely to those who ask with a humble heart.

The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.
To him be dominion forever. Amen. - 1 Peter 5:10-11

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the gift of this day. We thank You for the example of Jesus, whom You sent to us in the most humble of ways. We pray that we will follow His example, not turning away sinners, but welcoming them. Grant us the virtue of meekness, that we might remember that we ourselves were once lost in sin, but through Your almighty love, we are rescued. We ask all of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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