Not Understanding: Humility

Listening to the Gospel of Mark during this part of Ordinary Time, we hear Jesus patiently teaching his followers about the nature of discipleship and the kingdom of God. We also hear the disciples’ responses, which show their lack of understanding of what Jesus is talking about.  Jesus, recognizing this, tells Peter,

“You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Mark 8: 33b)

What prevents us, like the disciples, to more fully understand what Jesus is telling us about serving him and others? Or maybe the better question is:  what would it take for us to more fully understand?

  • “Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” (Mark 10:15)

Children are rooted in what God wants them to be. They are what they are and act in accordance to their deepest nature, their God-given nature.

Pope Benedict XVI tells us:

“We will know God to the extent we are set free from ourselves.”

Humility sets us free and allows us to love Jesus and others more than ourselves. Humility means becoming like children and relying on the Spirit to teach us how to be his followers through the liturgy, prayer, Scripture, and the events of our life.

  • “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the servant of all.” (Mark 10: 43b-44)

“Docile” comes from the Latin word docere (to teach). Being docile means to be teachable. We can think of it as having an attitude of receptivity to what the teacher offers us.

Docility to the Holy Spirit means that we look to the Holy Spirit – the Spirit who is the love between the Father and the Son – for the wisdom to be faithful to Jesus Christ and learn to serve others.

Docility ultimately means stepping out in faith after seeking the Holy Spirit’s will for us. We are called to “walk by faith and not by sight.” St. Paul’s words are a reminder that God’s will is rarely revealed to us in some absolute way. It requires trust in Jesus and stepping out into the unknown as his disciples.

  • “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8: 34b)

We have no better example of discipleship than our Blessed Mother Mary. Though most of Jesus’ disciples failed him on Good Friday by leaving him when he was taken away to be crucified, his mother was there to share the pain and suffering and persevere with Jesus to the end of his earthly life. Our Blessed Mother Mary stands by the cross in great faith, in total surrender and total trust in God’s plan for her son. She accepts her mission to be the spiritual mother of all the faithful followers of Jesus.

As human beings, we will never fully understand the mystery of discipleship, but we can follow Jesus in humility, being docile to the Holy Spirit, and surrendering to God’s will for our lives.

Though humility requires that we recognize our own inability to know God’s ways, truly desiring to please God requires that we use the resources God has given us to follow as best we can.

The prayer of Thomas Merton reminds us that our efforts to follow Jesus as best we can do indeed please God:

“My Lord God …. I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your will, does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. Therefore I will trust you always, though I may seem lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me.  And you will never leave me to face my perils alone.  AMEN.”

Debbie Garza is a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Leon Springs, and is an experienced Pilgrimage Group Leader with Pilgrim Center of Hope. She has traveled with Pilgrim Center of Hope to the Holy Land, Italy, and Greece. She says, “On pilgrimage, I know the ears and eyes of my heart have been opened by God’s grace and I’ve experienced the Joy of the Gospel. I am committed to helping other pilgrims experience their personal journey of faith.” Debra is also a member of Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Speaker Team.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit

Meet the Master: Jesus’ Humility

You are invited to spend a VIRTUAL morning of reflection on Jesus’ humility with Pilgrim Center of Hope.

  • What is true humility according to Jesus?
  • Where does humility stand in priority of other qualities for Jesus’ followers?
  • Encounter Jesus’ words and actions; informed by history and role models for us today.

Presenter: Mary Jane Fox

To Participate: Simply show up at this website by the starting time listed! The video will be here for you to watch along. To participate in the live chat, watch from our Facebook page.

Cost: Pilgrim Center of Hope is a non-profit evangelization ministry, sustained only by donations. While there is no required fee for attending, please consider donating a one-time gift or showing your support with a monthly donation. Every bit helps this mission of hope to continue. Thank you!

Materials for this Morning of Reflection

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An Example to Follow: Inspiration for My Ordinary Life

As my birthday approaches, and with it my sixtieth year of life, reality has been tapping me on the shoulder and whispering, “You have more years behind you than those which are to come.” This message could tempt me to despair. It could make me anxious. It could invade my peace with thoughts like, “I am running out of time to do anything extraordinary with my life!”

Thankfully, we have the “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) in our Communion of Saints who show that God can transform our ordinary into his extraordinary at any age. We have young saints like Jacinta who was only seven when the Blessed Mother appeared to her at Fatima. We have old saints like Elizabeth who became the mother of St. John the Baptist in her advanced age. Considering my current state in life, it is the witness of St. Elizabeth I have been pondering lately.

St. Luke’s Gospel writes of the advent of the long-hoped for Messiah by first telling Elizabeth’s story…

In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years. (Luke 1:5-7)

Like the long liturgical time that precedes the Church’s season of Advent, Elizabeth’s story is marked by its ordinariness. Of all the pivotal players at God’s incarnation which include Mary, Joseph and Zechariah, Elizabeth is the only one who did not get a visit by an angel. Her barrenness and old age would seem to disqualify her from producing anything of worth; yet it was the Lord Jesus who said of Elizabeth’s son, I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John (Luke 7:28).

And what did Elizabeth really do? Surely becoming pregnant at an old age is unusual, but not unprecedented. When Sarah gave birth to Isaac, she was in her nineties (Genesis 17:17). Elizabeth did what is ordinary for a woman; she bore life into the world.

St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. “Prophet of the Most High,” John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom,” whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 523)

To which I symbolically drop the mic exclaiming, “…and his mother is Elizabeth!”

There are two messages we can learn from the example of St. Elizabeth.

Firstly, God views humanity differently than we see ourselves.

To God, Elizabeth was not barren, she was patient. We read that along with her husband, she was righteous in his eyes and obedient to his law. Unlike her husband, she was not struck mute due to a failure to believe (Luke 1:20). Despite her lack, she remained full of faith. In fact, God respected her so much that it was to St. Elizabeth he gave the honor of announcing to the world that the Son of God does indeed dwell among us.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said,

Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. (Luke 1:41-45)

Secondly, God chooses us to play our part in his mission.

We each have our role to play in God’s Salvation Story. He is the hero. He is the protagonist, but he shares through grace all that each of us needs to join in his story, his mission. He states in the Gospel according to John 17:20-23:

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

St. Elizabeth answered blamelessly to God’s call for her by fulfilling her vocation to womanhood. She did so in many ways:

  • Through physical motherhood by giving birth to St. John the Baptist
  • Through the fertility of her will by remaining open to God’s plan for her
  • Through her spiritual fecundity in praising God with such boldness it sparked the Mother of God to proclaim:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever. (Luke 1:46-55)

Let us follow the example of St. Elizabeth to:

  • Be docile to God’s will and timing however long it takes
  • Remain steadfast in faith in him no matter what
  • Praise God and encourage others always
  • Welcome all who come to us in haste, whether holier than us or not
  • Put our life and vocation in God’s hands, confident he will be the one to exalt us

…so that others will follow us!

Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, motherhood and as a writer, speaker and events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit

What Am I Living For? Hope When All Seems Lost

Here in San Antonio, we recently participated in Daylight Savings Time, and we all got “an extra hour” added to our busy week.

How often do you wish for more time?

Life can rush past us so quickly. That is—until we hit a wall; illness, death of a loved one, a financial challenge, relationship problem, employment crisis, etc. Then, it seems we all pause and find ourselves wondering: What is the meaning of all this? What am I living for?

A Man Who Lost Everything

One of the most relatable stories I’ve ever come across is that of Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, also called Alfonso. He…

  • had poor health
  • lost his father at age 14
  • lacked a basic education, since he had to drop out of school and take over the family business
  • was a widower by age 31 after only 5 years of marriage
  • lost all three of his children at a young age
  • suffered the collapse of his family business

Having hit “rock-bottom,” he pursued a religious vocation. This required further education. Alfonso bravely enrolled in classes with young people sitting all around him, but he failed to pass.

He spent two years with a spiritual director before entering the Jesuits as a brother. He worked as a school doorkeeper and did odd jobs. Frequently, he was upset with scrupulous thoughts and suffered other mental issues. Finally, he began to lose his memory.

When Everything Fails

Can you imagine hitting as many walls as Alfonso did? (Perhaps you have.)

We all want to be happy. Happiness can be pursued in security, success, health, family, friends… but when we lose what is dear to us, ultimately, we come to question: What am I living for?

Finding Purpose

Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez left no speeches or writings. His legacy and humble witness of life are what teach us about living with purpose.

Faced with that ultimate question of purpose and meaning, he could have attempted to wrestle with it all by himself. Instead, he sought a trusted advisor to keep him on track. We can all do the same.

Even after failing his initial attempts at religious life, Alphonsus came to believe that everything meaningful he sought in life was found in God. Although it took him 16 years before he could make his final vows as a religious brother, a life dedicated to God was worth the wait.

Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez discovered the reason why thousands of people over millennia have left behind everything they had to follow Jesus Christ. It is also why many people who have lost everything, like Alfonso did, can continue to live with joy.

Jesus said: I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly. (cf. John 10:10)

Dare to seek a God who gave everything for you. Dare to ask Jesus: I need hope. Show me the abundant life that you came to give me.

Are you ready to discover a new reason to live?

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate for nearly 10 years. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

Approaching Life Transitions – A Quick Guide for Christians

During this month, many of us are experiencing transitions in our lives – whether related to school, work, home, family, or even the simple changing of the seasons.

Transitions can be exciting as well as difficult. How are we as Christians called & empowered to approach these challenges?

Looking At Jesus

The most obvious and triumphant transition that Jesus Christ experienced was in his passion, death, and resurrection. Consider how the Gospel depicts Jesus after his resurrection; retaining his wounds of crucifixion (cf. John 20: 25, 27). If we had been present at the crucifixion, those wounds would have been difficult to look at. After the Resurrection, Jesus offers those once-ugly wounds to the apostles for examination. Now, they see that these wounds are beautiful signs of God’s love and triumph.

When we enter into a new phase of life, we do not totally leave behind our past, and it may be difficult to see what good can come from this new challenge. However, when we entrust ourselves to God, our past can be redeemed and give God glory. What was once ugly can mysteriously become beautiful.

All things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Freedom In True Humility

A powerful truth is embodied by Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection: Only when we offer ourselves naked—with all defenses stripped away—before God and others; accepting the reality of our frailty, woundedness, and weakness, yet in the light of God’s mighty love, can we experience the Kingdom of God and life in the Holy Spirit.

That is true humility; seeing ourselves as God sees us!

When we outstretch our arms, like Jesus on the cross, to embrace the challenges that lie ahead in our daily pilgrimage of life, and only when we shed all the masks we wear; can we recognize how much God loves us, how highly God thinks of us and how greatly God believes in us!

Striving to Follow Christ In Transition

In his later years, Pope St. John Paul II conveyed his humility through his physical vulnerability. Rather than shying away from the public, he allowed others to see his frailty. Pope Benedict XVI demonstrated his humility by making the unprecedented decision to resign the fullness of religious power to live in seclusion and quiet.

During a General Audience in 2016, Pope Francis remarked, “It is enough to respond to the call with a humble and sincere heart. The Church is not a community of perfect people, but of disciples on a journey, who follow the Lord because they know they are sinners and in need of his pardon.”

Taking the Next Steps

I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

To help you face your next life transition or challenge, here are a few concrete things that can help you approach it with humility:

  1. Make a list of things for which you are grateful. At times, we approach a new challenge as if it depends entirely on our efforts. While we should always strive to serve God and others to the best of our ability, we are not the world’s savior! Spending time to write out a multitude of things God and others have given you, will remind you of the bigger picture.
  2. Spend some quiet time in prayer. Our minds need quieting from time to time, so as to recognize our true selves amidst the noise and demands of the world. A simple start is to pray a Hail Mary and end with: “Blessed Mother Mary, help me to see God’s love for me today.”
  3. Seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The point of this sacrament is not to tear you down, but to build you up. Within this encounter, we can shed all those masks & accumulated layers of pretense. See not only your areas of weakness, but ultimately how precious and what a gift you are in God’s eyes!

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate for nearly 10 years. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

What Is True Humility? – Life Lessons from Holy Weeek

Over time, humility has become more and more under-rated and misunderstood. A lot of this has to do with the fact that we see ourselves through the eyes of the world instead of through the eyes of God.

Palm Sunday not only signals the start of Holy Week, but it can also show us the way to true humility. Through the Paschal Mystery; Jesus’ passage from life to death to new life, lies the path to:

  • Embracing humility & suffering
  • Learning how to surrender our will to the will of God
  • Learning about our true personal dignity in God

The more that we can focus on the path of Jesus’ own humiliation throughout this week, the more we will be able to grow in true humility. Pope Francis tells us that, “there can be no humility without humiliation.”­

In Our World Today

This is extremely hard to do in a world pre-occupied with wealth, power, and control. Too many of us, me included – at one time or another – have been consumed by the desire for a bigger paycheck and having more prestige & influence.

Consider that, not long after the triumphant parade of Jesus from Bethany to Jerusalem, he was met by:

  • Betrayal, denial, violence, and the incomparable cruelty leading up to the Crucifixion
  • Institutional corruption and deep injustice fueled by the vanity of the Pharisees (pride and a desire for control leads to the majority of arguments & quarrels in our lives)      

In his Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul calls us to practice humility, in the face of adversity, like Jesus:

he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on the cross (Phil. 2:7-8).

What Is Real Humility?

Only until we are able to gratefully accept the humiliations that come our way can we experience real humility:

  • Real humility involves being able to say thank you for both our blessings and the pain that we endure.
  • Real humility involves serving others and seeking their good above your own advancement, even when they are ungrateful or disappoint you.
  • Real humility is when you realize you are not better than or less than others, but equal, as brothers and sisters of God the Father, especially when others belittle or offend you.

In his book, The Furrow, no. 259, St. Josemaria Escriva describes how humility is the foundation of all virtues:

  • “Prayer is the humility of the man who acknowledges his profound wretchedness and the greatness of God. He addresses and adores God as one who expects everything from Him and nothing from himself.
  • Faith is the humility of the mind which renounces its own judgement and surrenders to the verdict and authority of the Church.
  • Obedience is the humility of the will which subjects itself to the will of another, for God’s sake.
  • Chastity is the humility of the flesh, which subjects itself to the spirit.
  • Exterior mortification is the humility of the senses.
  • Penance is the humility of all the passions, immolated (offered up) to the Lord.
  • Humility is truth on the road of the ascetic (austere) struggle.”

Humility is the key to discovering who we are in Christ!

How to Begin

“Knowledge of oneself is the first step that has to be taken for the soul to reach the knowledge of God.” – St. John of the Cross

As you focus on the Passion, the Crucifixion, and the Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ all this week, think about all that he accomplished through his humility and surrender:

  • He permitted the darkness of the world to envelop him
  • Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world
  • On the cross, he drowned all the sins of the world in an ocean of Divine Mercy

The triumph of God’s love and mercy was made possible through the humility of Jesus. May this type of genuine humility lead to your spiritual conversion or reversion.

Robert V. Rodriguez is Public Relations & Outreach Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope. He combines a passion for the Catholic faith together with years of professional experience as a TV news journalist, video producer, and PR/marketing specialist. Robert also serves as Chairman for our annual “Master, I Want to See” Catholic Men’s Conference.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit