You, on the other hand, have drawn close to Jesus, mediator of the new covenant.
Today we are placed before the fundamental event that radically marked our life: the Lord Jesus.
An encounter with Jesus, with His life-giving Word, His death on the Cross and His glorious Resurrection — which is realized in all its fullness in sacramental grace, particularly in that of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist — has the power to transform us. In fact, no event, no matter how grand and emotionally involving, can transform our hearts so effectively: His action extends not only to earthly history but, in fact, beyond into eternal life. The Lord’s Grace however, does not violate our freedom: it should be welcomed and requires our convinced collaboration.
In the itinerary of discipleship, of following, of configuration in Christ Jesus, the biblical texts of this Sunday indicate three fundamental steps: Meekness, Wisdom, Humility. Meekness in fulfilling our daily tasks; Wisdom in listening to the truth contained in His divine teachings; and Humility in our relationship with God, with others and, importantly, within our own being. For as we are reminded in the inspiring words of Fratelli Tutti: “It is my desire that, in this our time, by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity. Fraternity between all men and women. [...] Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all”.
In this discipleship of being fellow travellers, the stakes are high: choosing whether to be self-sufficient, living according to worldly logic and condemning ourselves to die of asphyxiation in the narrow plots of history, or on the other hand, choosing whether to let ourselves be saved by Jesus, allowing Him to make a radical transformation in the depths of our person, introducing to us the broad breath of eternal life, of divine life, yes, a glimpse and a foretaste of eternal bliss with Him forever.
A superficial reading of this Gospel text could suggest a petty strategy to prevail over others, without appearing proud, but on closer reading, the level of understanding of the teaching of Jesus, contained in the two parables, is another: It is not a question of etiquette or moral attitude, but theological, of likeness to Him, who is meek and humble, who made Himself a servant — and a poor suffering one at that.
Welcoming Jesus, and accepting that He acts in us and with His life-giving grace, means exposing ourselves to a profound change: from worldly foolishness to heavenly wisdom, from violence to meekness, from pride to humility. In short, from the old man or woman to the new man or woman, from worldliness to new life according to the Spirit. Probably all the efforts we encounter in our friendship with Jesus derive from this: it is our resistance, conscious or unconscious, in allowing ourselves to be transformed from the old self to the new.
But any resistance we might feel should collapse before the two consoling conclusive sentences of this Gospel: “whosoever humbles himself will be exalted” and “you will receive your reward at the resurrection of the just”.
For this is exactly what was accomplished through Jesus’ Passion. He, meek and humble, submitted Himself completely and freely for our sakes to the scandalous wisdom of the Cross. He made Himself poor and a suffering servant in every sense of the word, and yet, the spine-tingling reality is that the Father raised Him up in the wondrous Resurrection, giving Him the joyful reward of our eternal salvation.
*Custody of the Holy Land
By Fr Luke Gregory ofm *