A Path of Rediscovery
Today’s Gospel story follows immediately on from Jesus’ baptism when Jesus’ identity as the Son of God was revealed: ‘This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’ In the wilderness, the evil one challenges this reality: ‘If you are the Son of God…’ We, too, are tempted to doubt our divine identity. We can so easily find our identity in what we do, in what we have, in what other people think of us, instead of in who we are.
Do we approach the coming weeks of Lent as an invitation to spend time in the ‘desert’ of silence, rediscovering our divine identity? What if our Lenten practice this year is to reclaim and re-treasure that which is of ultimate importance and infinite value – people, relationships, justice and compassion, forgiveness, beauty and time to reconnect with whatever renews our spirit and deepens our experience of love? As we reclaim and re-treasure we somehow get ourselves back. We’re more whole, more complete.
We begin Lent by blessing and being blessed by the ashes of the palms used in last year’s Palm Sunday celebration. Do we see this as a ‘doom and gloom’ experience, or do we come filled with awe and wonder, knowing what God can do with dust?
So let us be marked not for sorrow.
And let us be marked not for shame.
Let us be marked not for false humility
or for thinking we are less than we are
but for claiming what God can do
within the dust, within the dirt,
within the stuff of which the world is made.
Jan Richardson: Blessing the Dust
Various sources including M. Marsh and R.Rohr
Do we know who we are?
A story is told of a gentleman at Los Angeles airport. Bad weather had led to the cancellation of many flights and consequently there were many people stranded and forming long queues in an attempt to change their flights. One gentleman, who had been waiting patiently in line for some time, finally left his place and stormed up to the counter demanding that the agent find him a first class ticket to Chicago and to do so immediately. When the agent very politely told him to go back to his place in the queue and wait just as everyone else had to do, he pounded on the counter and shouted, “Do you have any idea who I am?” The agent calmly picked up the microphone and made an announcement to the entire airport: “Ladies and gentlemen. There is a man here who has no idea who he is. If anyone can identify him, will they please come forward.” With that, the gentleman took his place in the queue and waited.
The more we grow in awareness of who we are in God, the more humble we will be and the more we will realise that we are all gifted and beautiful, faulted and broken in our own ways. And each of us is loved by the God who created and sustains us. That gives us a dignity that we don’t have to earn and that can never be taken away. Humility is an inner attitude that candidly allows us to know, love and accept ourselves. If we are humble, we see our talents and accomplishments as gifts and recognise our limitations and failures as opportunities for growth. Humility allows us to see ourselves honestly. Humility is a virtue which allows us to love ourselves with no pretences. Humility really frees us to be ourselves and to grow and change. Humility frees us from the need or compulsion to wear a mask and pretend to be someone else.
Since the humble are secure, they are strong. And since they have nothing to prove, they don’t have to flaunt their strength or use it to dominate others. Humility leads to meekness. And meekness is not weakness. Rather, it is strength under control, power used to build up rather than tear down. The humble are not threatened either by God’s greatness or the reflection of that greatness in the talents of others. In fact, this is what naturally catches their eye and absorbs their attention – the goodness of God, wherever it may be found. The form of prayer that extols God’s goodness is called praise. The activity that honours God’s goodness in other people is called affirmation. The humble take delight in praising God and affirming people.
Do we have any idea who we are?
Adapted from a talk given by Fr Ferrer Quigley O.P.