Daily Reflection
June 27th, 2003
Tom Bannantine, S.J.
Nursing School Chaplain
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Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8-9
Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6
Ephesians 3:8-12, 14-19
John 19:31-37

As I read over today’s scripture readings, I was struck by the fact that the virtue of humility is very evident in these readings.  In today’s world many people put a premium on fame.  They want to become famous, or failing that, to associate with those who are famous.  They are willing to pay huge sums of money to associate with or be seen with famous politicians, entertainers, or athletes.  The authors of today’s scripture readings, St. Paul and St. John, were not like that.   Both of them were privileged to be associated with the most famous person in human history, Jesus Christ.  Yet John and Paul were not interested in becoming famous through their association with Jesus.  On the contrary, their lives were devoted to helping others to know and follow Jesus.  That was much more important to them than seeking fame for themselves. 

In today’s second scripture reading, Paul tells the Ephesians that he considers himself the very least of all the holy ones.  Paul really did think of himself as the least of the disciples of Jesus because he became a disciple later than the apostles and leading disciples of Jesus.  He was convinced that he was not as worthy as they were to be a disciple.  But we know that Paul was a wonderful disciple who brought the message and teachings of Jesus to uncounted numbers of people in Asia Minor and Greece.  Paul’s feelings about himself are a great expression of humility.  He didn’t think about the good that he was doing, but rather about the good that the Lord could do through him.  His great desire was to bring as many people as possible to know Christ and the love of Christ.  His own part in doing that was secondary.  

In the gospel reading for today, the apostle John gives another beautiful example of humility.  Speaking of himself as an eyewitness to the death of Jesus, John stays in the background, using the third person in referring to himself.  He does this on several other occasions in his gospel story.  John’s gospel was written to give an eyewitness account of the important events in the life of Jesus here on earth.  In this reading about the death of Jesus, John tells us that this is an eyewitness account and that this account is true to what he saw.  Like Paul, John wants people to come to know and follow Jesus, but he does not see himself as more than an instrument of God in this work.  Anonymity suits John because he realizes that the important thing is that people come to know Jesus, not him.

I think that John and Paul in today’s readings give us a wonderful example of  humility.  Their words and deeds show us that they were not interested in fame and human acclaim.  They were truly humble men who were content to help others to know and follow Jesus as they did.  

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