My dear brothers and sisters,1
We gather this afternoon in this “new normal,” as people are saying, and I think we realize, we are living in a world that’s been changed.
As we know, the Holy Land is again locked down because of the coronavirus pandemic, which is still spreading in dangerous ways throughout the state of Israel. We’re especially praying for them.
So today, I guess in a special way, we hear the cry of the people in our first reading today, “The Lord’s way is not fair!” And sometimes it seems that way. We look around at the pandemic, at the restrictions that are imposed upon us, we look at the violence in our cities, the wildfires that are still strong.
It seems to me that it is clear that our Lord is testing our faith, testing our commitments to his Gospel. It is that he’s calling us, each one of us, to let go of our securities, our certainties, the illusion that we’re in charge, that we can control things.
But my brothers and sisters, this is what faith means. Faith is not blind, it’s not unreasonable. But it does demand everything. It requires letting ourselves go, putting our lives totally in God’s hands, trusting completely that he knows what he’s doing, that he has a plan for our lives and for our world.
It means letting go our own will to do his will.
That is exactly what Jesus is teaching us today. He was teaching before and he’s teaching that now. And today, I think for all of us, given the circumstances in which we are, we can see that Jesus is still teaching us just that — abandonment to God.
Let’s just think about how Jesus came into this world. Not as a powerful Lord. He came as a servant. And, not just a servant. He came as a slave.
St. Paul reminds us today in the second reading: “Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.”
I think it’s a beautiful reading for us today, because we have all had the blessing to be in that place of the Nativity, where the Word was made flesh, in Nazareth. As we know, thinking of the Holy Land, it is an important duty of the Equestrian Order — to preserve these holy sites where God himself once laid his head, where he walked and taught.
But I think today, it’s good for us to reflect on what is really being said here. These words should make a big impression in us, my dear brothers and sisters!
The Son of God — the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity— to prove his divinity to us, gave up his privileges as God to take on our humanity! And he took on our humanity in its lowest condition. That of a slave.
Out of total love for each one of us, Jesus abandoned himself to the will of God the Father. St. Paul again says: “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
And of course, we all have had the blessing to walk on the way of our Lord’s cross, to see the place where he died, the tomb where he laid him. But that tomb, as we know, could not hold him! God raised him up.
Let’s reflect on that, in a special way, as we again are in these different circumstances.
And the important word that we hear today is humility. Jesus “humbled himself.”
I think this is the “key,” the message of the Word of God for this moment in our lives. Humility. There is a line in the Psalm for our Mass today: God “teaches the humble his way.”
I don’t have the answers about this plague. And I do not think God is calling us to question how we live. But I think he’s asking us to reflect on how we cannot have a civilization without him.
He’s also asking each one of us, personally, today: what is our relationship with the will of God?
Now, we are people of faith! We love Jesus. We love our Blessed Mother. We love the Church and we are generous in our support for the Church’s mission. We are also generous to others, especially the poor. All that is true and it is beautiful.
But I think our Lord is calling us in this moment to go deeper, to really enter into the mystery of his own poverty, his own humility.
In the passage of the Gospel today, our Lord tells us about two sons. The first one, as we just heard, refused to do what his father asked. But later he changed his mind and gave himself to do the father’s will. The second one said “yes” to his father, but never actually served him.
So my dear brothers and sisters, our Lord is calling us to be that “first son.” He is calling us to examine our lives and to make a deeper commitment. To follow his path, to live with his same attitude of abandoning ourselves to the will of God. He is calling us to make ourselves servants, even slaves of God’s will.
It is challenging, but it is a beautiful call. We all know that this is a civilization of love that God wants to have in the world. And it is up to all of us, personally — especially once we are reflecting on it and trying to make it our own, in the reality of our own lives — to go out, as we are doing all the time, helping people to see the beauty of God’s love and presence in their lives.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to intercede for us that we may have the courage to be humble, as he the Son was humble.
May she help us to keep giving ourselves, more and more every day, to do the will of God. Through humble service to others — to our Church, to our children, our spouses, our neighbors, especially people in need.
May Mary our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Angels, to always intercede for us and be with us and her Son Jesus forever.
1. Readings: Ezek. 18:25-28; Ps. 25:4-9; Phil 2:1-11; Matt. 21:28-32.