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Of Humble Confidence...


“A man ought never to say one word in his own praise, however true it may be. No, not even in a joking way.” ~ Saint Philip Neri

The quote chosen to kick off today’s reflection, authored by none other than the man known as the 2nd Apostle of Rome, caught me a little bit by surprise. Saint Philip Neri as many of you know is the Patron Saint of joy and humor, a man whose natural tendency towards mirth allowed him to find laughter even in hardship. Yet on the topic of humility, he discourages building one’s self up even when done merely in jest. Perhaps we knew like many others that there is always at least some truth in humor. Perhaps too he had a keen understanding of how difficult it is to grow in the virtue of humility. How vital too. These thoughts dovetail with today’s 1st Reading as we look in once again on Saint Paul as he addresses the people of Corinth by way of his second documented letter to them (2 Corinthians 3:4-11)

”Such confidence we have through Christ toward God” he begins, quickly going on to point out the source of this unwavering confidence and to whom we are to give thanks for it. “Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit for anything as coming from us; rather, our qualification comes from God, who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.”

Living a Spirit-filled life should be the goal of all those who seek a genuine and vibrant relationship with Jesus. The ways of the world must always come second, oftentimes even completely shunned, in order to achieve this peace-filled and harmonious existence. As Christians, we walk the perpetual tightrope of having full and total confidence in God and his many gifts and unrelenting love, while striving for humility in the wake of the outcome. We come to realize that all good is the byproduct of God working through his willing children, who are simply the conduits through which his gifts and his grace flows; the divine salve that heals a wayward and broken world.

In tomorrow passage, also taken from Saint Paul’s 2nd Letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 3:15-4:1, 3-6), Paul reinforces this message when he says “For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus. For God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ. This tied back to Jesus’ message in Monday’s Gospel, that we are called to be salt and light in an otherwise flavorless and dark world

As we approach the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I can’t help but think of the words of the great Saint that played such a pivotal albeit somewhat unsung role in the early establishment of this great devotion, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, which I will leave you to ponder:

“Be humble towards God and gentle with your neighbor. Judge and accuse no one but yourself, and ever excuse others. Speak of God always to praise and glorify Him. Speak of your neighbor only with respect. . . Do not speak of yourself at all, either well or ill.”

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