The readings this Sunday refer to possibly the two most significant examples of the humility of God modeled in the life of Jesus, the incarnation and the death of Jesus. In today’s Gospel, St. John writes, “God so loved the world” to send His Son who must then be “lifted up” on the cross (John 3: 13-16). In our second reading, St. Paul also writes of the incarnation and the death of Jesus in his letter to the Philippians, “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself…coming in human likeness; …he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2: 6-8)
Humility (minority) is one of the four values that characterizes Franciscan communities and ministries and is one path Franciscans and Franciscan hearted people attempt to follow to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Franciscan Theologian, Ilia Delia, in her book, The Humility of God: A Perspective, states that through our Franciscan lens “we see that the humility of God tells us something not only of God but our lives as well.”
What does living with humility mean for us today? It may mean admitting we may not see the full picture (as God sees it), so we must to be open to see with new lenses. In order to transform society, to bring about the Kingdom of God in the world, we need to be open each day to a transformative way of being in the world. Only when we are prayerfully open to our own individual transformation can we work effectively to transform unjust structures and societies. One of the most inspiring examples of an individual responding to God’s transformative power, so as to effect change in the unjust structures in the society in which he lived, is Oscar Romero. It was as an Archbishop of the Catholic Church in San Salvador, standing over the murdered body of Jesuit Priest Rutilio Grande, that Romero’s life was altered forever. The following day, Romero started to speak out publicly for the poor and oppressed.
To live with humility may mean to realize all that surrounds us, all we have in life including life itself, is pure gift. Our Franciscan heritage teaches that all of creation is sanctified because “God humbled himself” (Phil.2:8). St. Bonaventure considered each living creature a “word of God.” What does it say about us then, that an estimated 150-200 living species become extinct every 24 hours because of human activity? This is estimated to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate, if humans were not present.
In the coming weeks, our world leaders will be meeting at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York to consider measures that must be taken to prevent further degradation of our one and only home, Earth. On Sunday, September 21st, many faith groups will join the People’s Climate March in New York, which promises to be the largest gathering ever to demand responsible and corrective action by the world’s leaders to save God’s gift of creation. In solidarity with those who will be marching and praying in New York, let us all pray for the humility to see with new lenses, to transform our ways, and to do all we can to sustain God’s Gift of Creation for the next generation.
Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board of Directors
We pray for the gift of humility in order to fully understand the obedience of Jesus, let us pray…
May our hearts be open to trust in God’s plan, even if it doesn’t seem to fit in our lives, let us pray…