In almost all of the Lord Jesus Christ‘s parables, the listeners are invited to be attentive to the theocentric reality of each lesson and put into practice what is taught in a very real and tangible way. He used the parables to relate to the audience in a simple and personal way, making the lessons down to earth for the common person to comprehend, but also thought-provoking and rich in their imageries and lessons of truth.
The Lord never minced words when it comes to teaching the truth. He is very straightforward and direct, but also very patient and compassionate in inviting listeners to be humble, honest, and generous in responding to the message of truth and conversion. We, just like the people of His time, are invited to be holistically aware of what is going on, humbling ourselves and using our blessings to serve the Almighty and one another well. Jesus often tried to expand the horizon of His audience, not with just the people that they know and like, but also those who are challenging, forgotten, abandoned, and neglected in society.
In our faith journey, we are called to not be focused on what is going on, nor to build up a treasure for ourselves in the here and now, but to share and help those around us as we all head toward our heavenly homeland. We are being reminded of our real final and ultimate destination and goal, which is eternity with God. We are called to have eternal life with the One who understands and created us out of love and for love; and that is why we have to be transparent, genuine, and honest with Him.
Eternal life begins here by how we choose to conform our lives to our Savior‘s very own life, emulating His qualities, especially the two essential ones — humility and meekness. While pride is often a cover-up for insecurity, a genuine person has no need to create a self-centered impression. We do not have to put up a show for others to see. Our genuine openness is a natural quality that attracts those around us, but not to ourselves as the end-all-in-all, but to the One who lives and is at work in us. Humility and meekness are supernatural and theocentric qualities that point people to God who has created us out of love and is always present in our very own lives.
When I taught my first catechism class, I was very strict with the students. At a young age, raised in a strict and well-disciplined family, I thought in order to be effective and in control, I had to be hard and disciplinary toward the students. Even though I felt good because I was able to effectively pass on the necessary information each session, I was not really connecting with the students. I remembered some of my first “First Communion” students who came to me years later asking me, “How come you’re so relaxed, laid back, and funny now? You were so strict when we had you! Remembered?” I felt so guilty about the way I acted… we laughed… and I apologized for my ignorant behaviors in the past because I really did not know what I was doing and I was fearful of losing control of the class. As a young person, I was scared of being a fool.
I have learned much from teaching as well as in prayers. People can fear you but do not necessarily respect you! One can be strict and effectively in control of others, but that does not equate to respect. We can give a lot of information and make sure everything is in order and nicely packaged, but that is not genuine dialogue and accompaniment to help others grow holistically. I had to undo a lot of the things that I thought were needed to be effective, and that took a lot of letting go of my family of origin backgrounds and presuppositions. I learned that the desire to be in total control is nothing but a fragile fear that (unhealthily) dictates and chokes the life of one’s self and others. Things are messy, but they do not have to be perfect nor do we have to be in control for the Gospel and its transformative truth to be effective. In all things, we cannot let our fears, paranoia, or pride dictate us. Every occasion or encounter is filled with hope and there are many lessons to be learned if we are willing to be students of the school of life and faith. We can only be genuine, meet one another where we are, and accompany and lead each other to Christ with humility and meekness.
If we look at the lives of our Savior and His followers, the Saints, we can see that they were bold at times, but they were never arrogant. They were full of life, and at times seem to have big, attractive personalities, but they never worried about impressing or presenting themselves in a different than they are. I think, too oftentimes, we like to identify meekness and humility as “weak” qualities, but they are real ones, for people who are humble and meek are genuine and do not have to be pretentious.
In a world where many people want to be like God, powerful, in control and have everything they want, the Lord Jesus Christ became one of us by emptying Himself, living like us in all things but sin. In a world where people want things to be catered to them, He taught us humility by washing His disciples’ feet. In a world where small-minded people are willing to hurt others to rise to power and get what they want, the Savior stooped down to our level in order to raise us up to divine standards. He showed us that humility, compassion, and meekness are important qualities for God, so those who want to spend eternal life with the Almighty have to possess these important qualities, knowing that they are not worthy in themselves but they choose to love because of His love.
The Lord Jesus‘ humility is far from being weak and cowardly. On the contrary, only those who are courageous and truthful are willing to serve genuinely without losing control or power. His meekness is far from being enslaved by others, but being able to serve and love freely and completely without petty human calculations, manipulations, or benefits. Without a doubt, our Lord and Savior was not known for being the most powerful, richest, controlling, or prestigious in any sense of the word or by any human or social standards. He was known for His genuine and radical love! It was His self-giving love and truth that freed us from slavery to lesser things and the sins that defined us. Therefore, to be called disciples of Christ is to be like the Master, emulating and learning from Him how to be truly life-giving with genuine humility and meekness.
We are able to be free and be who we are called to be without human pettiness and self-centered worries about control, prestige, wealth, or power. When we are truly free, we are able to live out our vocation as children of our Heavenly Father, disciples of Christ, and instruments of the Holy Spirit.
I would like to end this reflection with the chorus of the song, “Nobody,” by Casting Crowns and Matthew West. In this song, the singers described all the biblical figures who were insignificant and not worthy but chosen by the Almighty to be His vessels, messengers, and witnesses of love. At the end of the day, our real vocation is to recognize that we do not have to be somebody powerful, prestigious, wealthy, in control, or influential to be believers and witnesses of His loving truth. We can really just be a nobody so that our words and actions, our everything, point people to Him!
‘Cause I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody,
all about Somebody who saved my soul.
Ever since You rescued me, You gave my heart a song to sing.
I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus.
I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus.