A famous multimillionaire, while attending a dinner, heard a discussion on the subject of prayer. After listening for a while, the man of means exclaimed with a sneer, “Prayer maybe alright for some of you, But I don’t need it. Everything I have today I’ve worked hard for, and I’ve earned it all myself. I didn’t ask God for anything.” A university president listened politely, then, said to the braggart, “There is one thing you don’t have that you might pray for.” Startled, the millionaire blurted out, “And what might that be?” the educator replied gently, “Sir, you could pray for humility.”
Let it be known that we should always pray for humility. It is because humility is not thinking less of ourselves or talking about our faults and shortcomings. But humility is recognizing the truth about our own self and unconscious forgetfulness of it. If we have such humility in us, never thank God that we have it.
Today’s gospel, Jesus pays tribute to St. John the Baptist. Not because there is an extensive writing about him in the Scripture or he is with Jesus all the time but because he is the first one who humbly recognizes and points out to Jesus as the Lamb of God. St. John has spoken well something about Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God…. whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie,” (John 1:29, 27). Now it is Jesus’ turn to give His greatest tribute to a man named John by saying: “No man born of woman is greater than John.” 365 Days With The Lord 2011 asked why Jesus gives this tribute to St John: “Do they have a mutual admiration for each other? Or do they have such great respect for each other? They work in the same field. They have the same faith. They are both passionate about their mission. Whatever it is, the most important is the humility of St. John the Baptist. The gospel of the Third Sunday of Advent (Year B) stated very clearly about this humility because St. John answered, when the Jews from Jerusalem sent priest and Levites to him to ask him, who is he, he admitted and did not deny that he is not the Messiah (John 1:19-20). While he preaches, people flock to him but he does not keep the people to himself but tells them to go the Lamb of God, Jesus, the One who takes away the sins of the world.
At the end let us reflect from this story wrote by Fr. Anthony de Melo in his book, Taking Flight, that there once lived a man so godly. He had no notion that he was holy. His holiness lay in this – he forgot each person’s past and he looked beyond each person’s appearance. He loved and forgave everyone he met. This was his way of looking at people.
One day an angel said to him: “I have been sent to you by God. Ask for anything you wish and it will be given to you. Would you wish to have the gift of healing?” “No,” said the holy man, “I’d rather God did the healing Himself.” “Would you want to bring sinners back to the path of righteousness?” “No,” he said, “it is not right for me to touch human hearts. That is the work of angels.”
“Would you like to be such a model of virtue that people will be drawn to imitate you?” “No,” said the saint, “for that would make me the center of attention.” “What then do you wish for?” ask the angel. “The grace of God,” was the man’s reply. “Having that, I have all desire.” “No, you must ask for some miracle,” said the angel, “one will be forced on you.”
“Well then, I shall ask for this: let good be done through me without my being aware of it.” It was decreed that the holy man’s shadow would be endowed with healing properties and so the sick healed, the land became fertile and people who were sorrowful are now happy, every time his shadow fell upon them.
The saint knew nothing of these because people were so caught up with his shadow that they forgot him. And so his wish was really.
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