Today’s Readings: Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord

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Psalm:

Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord,
and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.

In today’s readings, the Lord Jesus asks us to humble ourselves. He expresses this with an example.

He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor.
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
‘Give your place to this man,’
and then you would proceed with embarrassment
to take the lowest place.
Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you he may say,
‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Why does Jesus ask us to do such difficult things? The answer is that it is for our good. In this case, He wishes to save us from embarrassment. In all cases, we are saved from the harsh consequences of pride. So, He is asking us to do something difficult in order to save us from a worse difficulty.

Jesus is not asking us to do anything that He himself has not done to an even greater degree. How much more humble is He who, being God, made Himself an equal to us in our humanity. By being born as a newborn human child, He lowered Himself infinitely more than we could ever hope to lower ourselves. By comparison, He is asking us to do very little.

Jesus goes further and asks those in the position of host to accommodate the humble.

Then he said to the host who invited him,
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

When all of us act as we ought to, the sacrifices we make are far less difficult.

What the catechism says about blogging on weakness and the human condition

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There seems to be a divide in the Catholic blogosphere on the issue of weakness and whether it is holy to show weakness. For example, if I were to have a drinking problem, would it be holy of me to blog that I have a drinking problem as if it were “merely part of the human condition” rather than to be repentant of it and seek to change it? OR would it be holy of me to blog that I have a problem cleaning because of laziness, as if it were “merely part of the human condition” rather than to be repentant of it and seek to change it? I think the answer is rather clear from what the catechism has to say about weakness, but one has to read between the lines. I conclude that we should give glory to God in helping us rise above our weaknesses rather than glory in our weaknesses in the hope of “relating” to fellow humans.

Note the paragraph numbers preceding each excerpt. They are not in order so as to facilitate understanding of this particular topic. Note also that there are two kinds of weakness. One is the weakness of man and the other is the “weakness” manifest in Christ as a newborn child. These are two different contexts as Christ is not weak in the flesh as man is weak in the flesh. Christ’s weakness is physical, not spiritual, whereas our weakness is both spiritual and physical. Christ made himself subject to mortality but He rose from the dead because He is a conqueror of death. In like manner, through Him and with the help of the Spirit, we can conquer our own weaknesses.

101 In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words: “Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men.”

563 No one, whether shepherd or wise man, can approach God here below except by kneeling before the manger at Bethlehem and adoring him hidden in the weakness of a new-born child.

990 The term “flesh” refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality. The “resurrection of the flesh” (the literal formulation of the Apostles’ Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our “mortal body” will come to life again.

853 On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the “discrepancy existing between the message she proclaims and the human weakness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted.” Only by taking the “way of penance and renewal,” the “narrow way of the cross,” can the People of God extend Christ’s reign. For “just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the Church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to men.”

387 Only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin and particularly of the sin committed at mankind’s origins. Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God’s plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another.

306 God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.

741 “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” The Holy Spirit, the artisan of God’s works, is the master of prayer.

2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing.

1784 The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.

1053 “We believe that the multitude of those gathered around Jesus and Mary in Paradise forms the Church of heaven, where in eternal blessedness they see God as he is and where they are also, to various degrees, associated with the holy angels in the divine governance exercised by Christ in glory, by interceding for us and helping our weakness by their fraternal concern” (Paul VI, CPG § 29).

I added the one about education because it is applicable to blogging. We should teach virtue, not weakness. So says the catechism.