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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?

Humility
  • “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.

Docility
  • “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.

Surrender
  • “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 PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

Amidst Chaos: Simple but Powerful Steps to Peace & Trust In God

I remember a few years ago, standing in the Southwest Airlines ticket line at the San Antonio airport. My husband and I were eagerly awaiting our flight to a family get-together.

But our mood was disturbed as a woman furiously pulled her luggage into the line behind us.  From her loud phone conversation, we immediately knew that her flight home had been cancelled due to tornado warnings elsewhere. After hanging up, she began spewing expletives into our shared air, seemingly unaware of the folks around her.

My annoyance turned to sadness for this woman, when she (angrily) revealed to an agent that she had an ill family member at home, with whom she needed to be present.

Whether by a trip to the airport, the grocery store, a walk around our neighborhood, or even staying home and scrolling the Internet, it’s easy to see how chaotic our lives can become. People get sick, accidents happen, tasks need accomplishing, not to mention injustices in our communities…

As life piles up, how can we maintain peace and trust in God?

At several points in the Gospel, Jesus’ disciples think they’ve got it made. We get it now, they say. We understand you and your message now!

But Jesus hands them a reality check:

Do you believe now?
Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived
when each of you will be scattered to his own home
and you will leave me alone.
But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but take courage, I have conquered the world.

Sometimes when we feel strong in faith, we get a reality check: something doesn’t go according to plan, and we panic.

Waving the White Flag?

Look at our first pope, Peter.

  • As guards arrested Jesus, Peter fought back; cutting off a man’s ear!
  • Afterwards, he tried to escape the situation; denying three times that he ever knew Jesus.
  • At the Crucifixion, Peter was nowhere to be found.

What happened to Peter later in life, so that he finally had peace amid chaos? How was he finally able to “take courage” and face his own persecutors and death?

Peter learned to surrender.

That word invokes negative connotations. “Surrender” seemingly epitomizes weakness… and who wants to be weak? Yet, the centrality of surrender amid suffering is the message that Peter hammers home in his letters, which are now books of our Bible (1 and 2 Peter).

Why surrender? My spiritual director once instructed me to read a spiritual classic: Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, by Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade. Its author directly addresses our desire to fight or escape God’s will:

If that which God Himself chooses for you does not content you, from whom do you expect to obtain what you desire? If you are disgusted with the meat prepared for you by the divine will itself, what food would not be insipid to so depraved a taste? No soul can be really nourished, fortified, purified, enriched, and sanctified except in fulfilling the duties of the present moment. What more would you have? As in this you can find all good, why seek it elsewhere? Do you know better than God? As he ordains it thus why do you desire it differently? Can His wisdom and goodness be deceived?

Wow. In what we could call the “School of Surrender,” the first step to maintaining peace is to see my daily life as a personalized gift from an All-Good, All-Loving, Most-Wise and All-Powerful God.

If my day is filled with challenges, I have to trust that I’ve been offered resources & graces tailor-made to overcome those challenges. As my day is peppered with good things, surrendering means trusting that God has also willed those good things exactly for me at that moment.

What a source of joy!

Finding Peace

Here at the Pilgrim Center of Hope, we deal with a number of challenges. Amidst them all, we gather each day in Gethsemane Chapel with our CEO (the Lord Jesus). We begin with a Consecration to the Holy Spirit recommended by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller. We pray, “O Holy Spirit… I surrender myself to You…”

Let’s make an effort to address our own daily ways of “fighting” or “escaping from” the everyday situations entrusted personally to us by our loving, Heavenly Father. What will we choose to do; complain? drag our feet? ignore some duty that we know is best for us? escape through many hours of entertainment?

Instead of complaining, let’s choose to praise God: “Thank you, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, for being with me at this moment.”

Instead of dragging our feet, let’s stand confidently in the graces that God has given us.

Instead of ignoring our duty, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to turn our eyes to face what is before us with courage.

Instead of escaping, let’s ask Jesus to take us by his hands that were pierced as a promise of his love and constant presence.

Come, Holy Spirit.  Help me to find peace in surrender.


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 since 2010. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

A Plan of Fulfillment & Assurance

There are four accounts of the Gospel in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each one is unique and offers us fulfillment and assurance.

One specific passage, which is one of my favorites, is from Matthew 11; verses 28-30:

 Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

These words from the Son of God are simple, direct and meek; and yet these words are an invitation from the heart of Jesus Christ.

Come to me are the words of the Master, the Son of God. He calls everyone to come to him.

In ancient Palestine, 2000+ years ago, Jesus spoke these very words to crowds following him. Many were helpless. They were weighed down by daily burdens. They were living under Roman Occupation, which wasn’t a just situation for everyone. The people witnessed persecution and even criminals crucified.

Jesus, the Lord, does not focus on the negative or the burdens. He first invites and then refreshes. He assures them—and us today—through his Word, about taking the weight off of us.

Jesus is telling us, “Dare to trust me!”

How many of us remember as children, running to our parents or a grandparent after falling down or after being hurt; yearning for the warm acceptance and gentle caress of someone who sincerely cares for us? Didn’t our tears go away shortly after?

Accepting the Invitation

We, too, can run to Jesus, the Lord. God created man as a rational being, conferring on each one of us the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his or her own actions.

Yes, part of who we are as a rational being, with dignity of a person who can control our own actions, is the Will. The will is free, having the ability to choose. Archbishop Fulton Sheen expressed this concept well:

There is one thing in the world that is definitely and absolutely your own, and that is your will. Health, power, life, and honor can all be snatched from you, but your will is irrevocably your own.

Let’s listen to what the Church asserts about our will:

God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel, so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2730)

Perfection here means fulfillment, completion.

This is the plan of God for us today! In using my will, I have a choice to live the faith daily, to read the Gospel and be given the assurance needed to bring true peace into my soul.

Jesus is offering us something that the world cannot offer: an invitation to come to him and discover a plan that will lead us to rest and walk with him no matter who we are, where we are in our walk or position, or what we have right now.

His promise is his plan for us, and he includes complete rest. This can result in a true joy, happiness, and perhaps with time, a complete surrender to him! No matter how smart we are, how much money or how many things we have, we will never have true peace and rest without God.

Faith is involvement, passion, mind, and heart beating together in an attempt to answer the question of Christ, which engages one’s life. – Fr. Bruno Forte


Mary Jane Fox, D.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with her husband, Deacon Tom Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Mary Jane is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Dame of the Holy Sepulchre.

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 PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.