Seeking the Glory of Humility
Daily Gospel: MT 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
There are many qualities of little children. They do not desire great things; not minding high things (Romans 12:10)….they do not remember enmities….No one but the humble will enter…
St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Matthew C.18 L1 pp. 1489
When our eyes are fixed on some sort of prize, some goal, it is natural for us to begin to draw up a plan, or a way to obtain that desirable objective. But that seeking often goes astray when interpret that prize through the lens of our ego and pride. We are willing to elbow our way to whatever good it is we seek, and thus cease to be good along the way; and we often become gluttonous along the way.
Jesus has just revealed himself and the glory to be sought to some of his Apostles. This sets a sort of quest before them to seek the greatness of the Kingdom of God. The disciples, having an ache for belonging to the Glory of Christ’s Kingdom, as sinners, ask inordinately: “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
This was the wrong question for them to ask. Jesus flips their egos on their head by offering a type of paradoxical answer. Jesus was not so much concerned here with the licit notion of a hierarchy in heaven, as much as he was concerned with the right disposition to enter that Kingdom. Knowing that the disciples were operating according to a worldly type of greatness, Jesus brings them down to earth by asking them to become like children. For all the snobbish adulting that was likely ajoined to a notion of greatness, Jesus sets us straight. As St. Thomas Aquinas puts it: “…one does not arrive by being greater, but by the spirit of humility; in humility, let each esteem others better than themselves (Phil 2:3).” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Matthew, C18. L1, pp 1486)
It’s simple, but difficult for us to actively live out. We are born addicted to pride as a result of Original Sin; we are fortified in it based on personal habits; and the various communal notions of progress and dysfunctions we encounter. Might I suggest that we first begin by sharing in Christ’s own identity as a beloved Son of the Father. Jesus had the disposition of a Son in every perfect sense before the Father, and it was in this relationship, which we have received freely, that we can learn to only ascribe to the Father’s opinion of us. This helps supplant any unholy competition for identity labels of greatness in our own social contexts and worldly constructs. Had Christ been caught up in a worldly greatness, He would have never shared His Divine Sonship with us; he would have lorded it over us! Yet He shares that relationship, and freely. This ought to cause us to imitate such humility and generosity.
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