THE HUMILITY OF A STEWARD

Meditation for the Third Sunday of Lent

March 27, 2011

Water is life. Water is a great teacher. Decades ago, Bruce Lee said: Be flexible. Be formless. Be fluid. Be shapeless like water. You put water unto a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. Water can flow or it can crash or creep. Be water my friend. Water has the continuity of movement. You must free your ambitious mind and learn the art of dying. The cup realizes itself only by being empty. Be yourself.

The Lord reached out to the Samaritan woman with a humble request for something to drink. We do not know if He got what He asked for. We only know that this request came from a humble Jew who took the form of a slave and did not deem the honor due to God something to cling to. He asked for water while He Himself was like water—formless, fluid, flowing, free.

St Augustine was asked "What are the ways to God? First is humility. Second is humility. Third is humility." Humility is seeing yourself as God sees you. God loves humility because God loves Truth. Humility is truth but not only truth; it is truth in love.

 

It was with that sense of truth in love that Jesus confronted the woman by the well about the history of her sin. She did not take offense. She found it liberating and called Jesus a Prophet. Indeed that is what truth in love does—it sets us all free. Humility does not play deaf and blind to sin. Humility calls sin by its name and invites hope and new life. When truth confronts evil with love, it makes conversion bloom.

 

The humility that is asked of a steward is not about self deprecation or suppression of our talents. Humility is rather the acknowledgment of the greatness that God has done through us. And the fruit of true humility is a merciful and forgiving heart. Seeing something divine in others, the truly humble person becomes incredibly, endlessly and foolishly merciful. The proof of humility is compassion.

 

The humble person sees the greatness of others not as threat but as reason to thank the Giver of all these gifts. Jesus saw through the woman by the well. She was not a second class creature. She was not a disdained member of an abominable social class. She was not an adulterous sinful person. Jesus saw her greatness—she is a daughter of God created in His image. Seeing greatness in everybody, the humble steward is not jealous but grateful; he is not threatened but consoled.

 

A proud steward is a contradiction. Real stewardship spirituality is humble. In summary, the humble steward is loving and merciful; the humble steward is grateful and joyful; the humble steward invites conversion and gives hope.

Indeed the first duty of a steward is not just to give and share although sharing is a very important duty of his. The first duty of the steward is to be meek and gentle and humble of heart so that people may see him and see the humble Lord shining through him. Let us pray for humility.

 

O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart, Hear me!
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus!

From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it!

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should...

 

From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, March 27, 2011

 

 

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

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