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REFLECTION CAPSULE – Mathew 6: 1-6, 16-18

REFLECTION CAPSULE
Based on Mt 6: 1-6, 16-18

A legendary story goes is told of a holy person who lived an extremely virtuous life.
>> The goodness in him diffused, as a flower would spread its fragrance.

So impressed were the angels, that they came down to enquire on his secrets and even to offer him special gifts of miracles and thus he could gain more popularity and fame.
>> They offered him the gift of the “touch of his hand” – so that he would be able to heal the sick or raise the dead…
… But he refused, saying that “God alone could heal”

>> Then, they offered him the “power of conversion” – so that people could turn to God in repentance…
… But he refused, saying that “the Holy Spirit alone could work repentance in souls”

>> Then they offered the power to be a “model of goodness” so that many more would be drawn to him by the virtue of his life…
… But he refused, again, saying that “if all are drawn to him, people would be away from God”

Puzzled, the angels asked him what gift did he desire!

The holy person replied:
“Grant me the gift of humility…
… so that I might do good to all, without me even knowing it!”

And so the angels interceded to God…
… and he was blessed:
>> Wherever his shadow would fall, where he himself could not see it…
… the shadow would cure sicknesses, heal broken hearts and bring back people to God in repentance!

Humility was the virtue that was sought by the virtuous person…
… and it was this simplicity to allow the Lord to take complete possession of all his goodness, that exalted him to climb the ladder of sanctity higher!

Yes, Humility is the prime virtue that needs to embellish the life of every Christian.

The Gospel of the Day is a teaching by Jesus on the prime importance of doing away with pride and instead, beautifying one’s life with sincere humility.

Jesus, through the Sermon on the Mount continues to target the key areas of one’s Christian living.

Today He speaks on the three core practices that were essential pious practices of His time: almsgiving, prayer and fasting.

Jesus condemns the practice of these devout exercises becoming instruments to show-case one’s pride and exhibit pomp and self-glory.

·      With respect to almsgiving, Jesus says…
… “sound no trumpet”

·      With respect to prayer, Jesus says…
… “shut the door and pray to your Father”

·      With respect to fasting, Jesus says…
…”anoint your head and wash your face”

One of the fundamental aspects in the Spirituality of Jesus is His emphasis on the intention of the heart.

>> Sin is…
…  when the heart rejects the working of the Spirit.

>>  Holiness is…
… when the heart accepts the grace of the Spirit.

·      When the heart consents to evil, sin occurs
·      When the heart consents to grace, goodness is affirmed.

>> An act of almsgiving happens, when the heart willingly gives – in generosity and with wholeheartedness

>>  An act of prayer happens, when the heart seeks communion with the Lord – in openness and with faithfulness

>>  An act of fasting happens, when the heart self-sacrifices and renounces – in sincerity and with willingness

When the intention of the heart is genuine and sincere, then one remains least bothered of external attractions and publicity…
… there is no desire to seek for attention and appreciation for one’s devout actions
… there is no inclination to want acknowledgement and recognition for one’s pious deeds

And this is the ideal to which Jesus invites us:
>> A religion that spreads not simply on the basis of external shows..
…but on the basis of genuine spirituality

>> A faith that grows not merely on the strength of pompous deeds…
… but on the foundation of true dependence and trust in the Lord

Is my practice of religion resembling a peacock’s display of feathers – wanting to flaunt one’s pride and vain glory – but in the process…
…  exposing one’s unattractive face of life?
… revealing one’s cheap side of life?

Let us give heed to the wisdom from the book “Imitation of Christ” and seek to grow in humility and  dependence on the Lord:
“Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you be accounted worse before God who knows what is in man.
>> Do not take pride in your good deeds, for God’s judgments differ from those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him”

May we take concrete and practical decisions to practise the three pillars of Christian Piety – Fasting, Almsgiving and Praying…
… in its truest sense.

>> And may this be our prayer to enshrine all our activities:
“Grant me the gift of humility…
… so that I might do good to all, without me even knowing it!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Jose Manjackal MSFS
Bengaluru, India

——————————–
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – ” _The most perfect degree of humility is to take pleasure in contempt and humiliations.
>> Contempt suffered patiently for love of Him is worth more before God…_
… than a thousand fastings and disciplines!”
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