The priests and Levites asked John the Baptist, “Who are you?” The Pharisees asked him, “What are you?” John answered, “Well, let me tell you what ‘I am not …'”
In his blog post, Fr. Ron Rolheiser writes the following story:
Some twenty years ago, while on a retreat, an elderly nun was assigned to me as director. She proved to be a woman of rare maturity, providing the guidance that I needed at the time.
Being young and intense, I too easily made a cosmic drama and tragedy out of every ordinary desolation or setback – and she challenged me with a wisdom, an earthiness, and a sense of humor that continually helped deflate my pompousness.
This is true for every parent, teacher, minister, priest, justice advocate, and friend. We are instruments, mere instruments, albeit important ones, and, unlike God, we are not adequate to the task.
He goes further by explaining where prayer comes in:
Healthy prayer functions paradoxically: On the one hand, it connects us to God and links us to divine energy. Conversely, at the same time, it dissociates us from God by making it clear to us that we are not God. Hence, a good prayer life is paradoxical too in its effect, namely, it connects us to God and thus saves us from depression even as it dissociates us from God and thereby saves us from inflation and self-righteousness. Simply put, if someone does not pray, in some way, he or she is forever falling either into depression or into infantile grandiosity.
The men’s Gospel reflection group, which I attend, weekly prays The Litany of Humility:
- That others may be esteemed more than I …
- That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease …
- That others may be chosen and I set aside …. That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
- That others may be preferred to me in everything…
- That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…
WE are not the light; we testify TO the light. It’s not about us; it’s about HIM. But we do play a roll. In true humility, we need to recognize what we are – and what we are not – and perhaps relax a little. Teresa of Ávila has a great quote along this line:
“May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
(So) Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. “Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”
Some additional random thoughts:
- What is the desert of your heart? What’s causing it?
- What is the voice crying out to the desert of your heart? Where do you go to find that comforting voice?
- If you’ve found it, what is it about “that” voice that attracts you?
Audio Version of the Homily is Here: