Let’s talk about some of the words we heard in the readings.
If we are honest, we may doubt whether “meekness”
is always a virtue. As we know, the meek get pushed around a lot.
Yet Jesus not only rewards the meek,
but in another passage, he calls himself “meek and humble of heart.”
This is a good time to be clear about something.
There is a terrible, false idea out there about “accepting” abuse.
Sometimes kids are told that’s what they are supposed to do.
Sometimes girlfriends and wives think they are supposed to do that.
Let me state in the strongest terms:
NO ONE is EVER supposed to put up with abuse.
Our teachers, our principal at school,
not only Bishop Leibold but any school, know how to help.
Ask a trusted adult, ask a friend, to help you get help.
Ask me, if you don’t know who to ask.
And I want to add that anyone who has authority will be accountable to God
for misusing that authority: pastor, parent or police officer. (Added at Mass.)
Jesus chose to endure the injustice of the Cross.
It is a profound mystery, which each Lent we delve into.
There is a deep truth in the words of Isaiah,
“by his stripes we are healed.”
But Jesus did not endure injustice to say injustice was OK,
but to stand with us in our suffering.
Jesus chose to become lowly and poor and even despised,
so that there wouldn’t be any single person who could say,
“Jesus doesn’t know what I go through.”
Jesus, with us on our personal Cross, gives us courage
not only to endure wrongs, but also to challenge them.
It is Jesus’ grace that has helped us, down the generations,
to confront and overcome injustice.
Often, it is precisely the weak and lowly who teach us how to do that.
Let’s talk about humility.
True humility is not demeaning yourself, but rather, accepting yourself,
being at peace with yourself, both in the gifts you and I do have,
and the gifts we don’t have.
Who I am, who you are, is not defined
by money or position or any particular talent or ability,
but by the supreme gift of being God’s children, and knowing that.
This allows you and me to face our weaknesses,
and admit our sinful choices,
because when I know God loves me, and offers me grace to change,
my self-image isn’t threatened by confessing: “I am a sinner.”
Rather, that confession becomes the doorway to salvation
and true greatness as God measures it. In a word: heaven.
Then comes gratitude. I am not only at peace with myself;
I can be grateful for who I am.
I am not this or that person who is richer, thinner,
more athletic or more artistic or more of anything else.
I am me; you are you; and by God’s design, there is only ONE of you.
God considers each of us important parts of his Creation;
or else he wouldn’t have included us. No one is an accident.
All this leads both to the Cross and beyond, to resurrection.
Dying to pride and self-regard is how we are reborn
as grateful sinners being changed, day by day, into glorious saints.
And that, by the way, is the central reality of this and every Mass.
Not just about the glory ahead,
but the suffering and wrongs of now, which Jesus shares with us.
To be baptized, to renew baptism in confession
and to share in the Holy Eucharist as a Catholic, is to say:
God made me, God saves me. I abandon myself into his hands.
Every flaw and sin is an opportunity to be made glorious by his grace.
To that journey and destination, you and I say yes and amen!