Consider this… Humility
Only those who are humble can receive the gifts of God. This is because either we are too proud to accept them or we do not know how to receive them without having to feel like it is necessary to return the favor as a sort of transaction. In order to receive gifts as gifts, we need to recognize that gifts are not something earned or deserved or given-in-exchange, nor do they have expectations attached with them, but rather for gifts truly to be gifts as such, they are given unconditionally, out of love, just-because… Love is a gift that is authentic when given unconditionally and a gift that is authentic when received in humility. Indeed, all of life is lived within this dynamic paradox of receiving humbly and giving generously, and as this process unfolds we are all of us transformed for the better.
Our readings from this weekend are calling our attention to a fundamental characteristic of human nature, a characteristic very difficult to admit, that is, because of our limited capabilities and our finite natures, we are in need of more than we can actually give out in return. Only those who can humbly acknowledge that they are in need are open enough to realize that God’s blessings are gifts freely given. Despite the magnificent accomplishments we have achieved, we are really dependent on the goodness of others. While the exchange of favors may be a common and, indeed, noble practice, in those areas of life that are most important and meaningful we must be humble receivers.
As it is, we didn’t choose to be born into this world in this time and in this place, but we received the gift of life from the generosity of our parents (a gift, I might add, that is still unfortunately being rescinded to millions of kids through abortion), and with that gift came our 1st experiences of community, provisions for the basic necessities of life and education, even the native language we speak was gifted to us. With this too is the gift of faith, handed on to us. — As a side note, I want to acknowledge that we’ve had a great many baptisms over the summer and during this past month at St. Mary’s; what a blessing they are to our families and to our faith community! Our newest members are an answer to prayer and when we hear their cries at Mass, we know there is life in the Church, life that we need to continually support and help grow — We receive the gift of authentic love from friends and family and community, not because we are business partners nor because one person is useful to the other to whatever financial, sexual, emotional, or spiritual end, but rather we are loved regardless of our talents and quirks. As we grow and discover that no one is perfect, ourselves included, we receive the gift of forgiveness, all because others are gracious and understanding towards us, and not because we deserve it. We can think also of our service men and women, many of whom we never met or will ever meet, yet they give themselves to us in love on the front lines of the battlefield, on the streets, in the hospitals, and in our communities. Besides these few examples, many people in their own ways have loved us through our journey of life, working hard and sacrificing for us so that we could enjoy the life we have today. We have much to be thankful for, and if received in humility, we would never take these gifts for granted.
We know that Fr. Bryan has had additional responsibilities in North Buffalo these past months that have diverted away some of his attention, and though he still has responsibilities with the Diocese, we look forward to his return on September 1st. More pastoring had since fallen onto my shoulders in the meantime, and I acknowledge that I couldn’t have done this without him nor especially without you all, my parish family. It is really amazing to see how there are so many good and devoted people here who truly support each other in their endeavors and their growth – from sharing your expertise to sharing life, you have likewise helped me grow as a person and as a priest. We’ve been through a lot together already in these couple of years and I am looking forward to more still. So, of the many blessings of my life, I just wanted to take a brief moment to say humbly, “thank you” for the blessing that you all have been to me.