Saving the World Through the Powerless

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time  

Imitate Christ's HumilityIsaiah 53:10-11
Hebrews 4:14-16
Mark 10:35-45

Jesus embraced a path of powerlessness.

Although he could heal any illness, drive out any demon, and command the powers of nature, he chose to be crushed in infirmity (Is 53:10). Although he is all-powerful, he came to conquer us not by force of arms but by the power of love and forgiveness.

It is difficult to overestimate how radical Jesus’ teaching about powerlessness is. When we look at our own lives, how much energy do we spend trying to get noticed by others? How much attention do we give to those who are attractive and charismatic, even though they get more attention than they need? On the other hand, how often do we overlook those who are needy and could use a kind word? Jesus made it very clear to us that whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to Him (Mt 25:31-46). If we are overlooking the meek, then we are overlooking Jesus. Until we can learn to value them as human beings with as much dignity as the rich and the beautiful, we can never discover the presence of Jesus in our world. Even more importantly, until we can learn to serve them no matter how inconvenient it may be, we can never claim a place in the kingdom of God.

To embrace such an attitude requires the virtue of humility. Without humility, real holiness and knowledge of God are not possible. Humility helps us to see ourselves as we really are. It teaches us that we are no better than anyone else. Without humility, we place ourselves at the center of the universe and claim that we are entitled to every convenience and pleasure the world has to offer. Without humility, we cannot recognize that we have a responsibility to care for others. Without humility, we cannot be grateful because we believe the world owes us. Without humility, we cannot love or serve God because we claim to take His place as the end all and be all.

However, with humility, we see ourselves not as competitors for status with others but as brothers and sisters. With humility, we are free to put aside our ambitions and interests to serve others. We are not focused on our misfortunes but on those who have even less than we do. We do not obsess over what we deserve but on whom we should serve. When we experience sickness or other setbacks, we do not shake our fists at God and ask why but accept all things with grace, trusting that our heavenly Father has a plan and that He will not abandon us. Only those who are humble, who are able to accept suffering, and who put ambition aside to serve others can reach the glory of heaven.

We should be ambitious not for the things of this world but for the glory of heaven, where Jesus reigns. As this Sunday’s second reading assures us, we can approach Him with confidence. Unlike earthly rulers, He is not offended by our weakness or frailty. Rather, that is precisely why He loves us. We can bring Him our sin, our failings, and our fears, because it was for just such a reason that He suffered and died for us. And it is for the hope of sharing His glory that we accept whatever sufferings may come our way, knowing that they are preparing us for a seat of honor at the heavenly banquet.

Douglas Sousa, S.T.L.