The blessing of being humble of heart - Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Decrease font size
Increase font size
Print this page
Home > Archbishop > Homilies > The blessing of being humble of heart - Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Each Sunday when we come to Mass we listen to the reading of Sacred Scripture chosen for the particular Sunday. It is always reassuring to know that the entire Catholic world is listening to and reflecting upon the same texts.

Sacred Scripture is the living Word of God. We are aware that God speaks to us, speaks to our lives, speaks to our hearts, through the Sacred Scripture. So at Mass we seek not just to hear what is read out but to listen to what the Scriptures may be saying to us. In other words, the Scriptures are not just useful texts to read, but they say something personally to us. We listen for the voice of God coming through the text.

In a particular way the preacher listens intently as he must respond to the Word of God by way of the homily.

The Gospel reading we have today is a spontaneous prayer by Jesus. It is a prayer of joy and gratitude to his Father. St Matthew does not tell us what prompted it, though St Luke tells us that Jesus said this prayer after the excited disciples whom he had sent out on a missionary trip returned and told him of the many wonderful things that happened to them. Jesus rejoices with them and thanks his Father because these disciples had become instruments of the work of God.

In a spontaneous prayer to his Father, Jesus says, “I bless you Father Lord of heaven and earth for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children”. It was the simple, ordinary folk who experienced God at work in them. His words here carry a similar sentiment to his teaching at the Sermon on the Mount when in the Beatitudes he begins, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. The Blessing of God comes upon us when we have a poverty of spirit.

This is a most reassuring text for us. We don’t have to be learned or clever to be drawn into the wonderful works of God. Indeed, it is true that the learned and clever often are the hardest to receive the message of God.

Jesus said in another place: “unless you become like little children you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven”. It is those who have a truly humble and simple spirit who will respond most readily to God.

Thus the best place for us before God is to one who recognises their weaknesses and limitations. It is when we come before God in humility and simplicity of heart that we are most open to God. These are the necessary dispositions of heart that enable God to work within us. 

The Blessed Virgin Mary rightly described herself as a “lowly handmaid” of the Lord. She was humble, faithful and trusting. She sought not to promote herself, but to be submitted to the will of God. She lived with a  simplicity of spirit.

Very rightly in her great hymn of praise, the Magnificat, she declared that the Lord “looks on his servant in her lowliness”. She realises that God has had regard for her because of her lowliness of spirit.

She, too, rejoices that the Almighty has done great things for her. In other words, she attributes everything to the mercy and kindness of God. She knows that she has been the beneficiary of the love of God who has chosen to act in her.

This has always been the case in Christian history. Think of St Therese of Lisieux, the little flower. Think of St Francis who wanted to walk the path of poverty and simplicity.

Think of the children at Fatima or St Bernadette at Lourdes.
The way to walk with God is to walk with simplicity and trust. It is the knowledge of our littleness that is precisely the way in which God’s grace can touch our lives.

With this recognition that it is to the simple of heart that God reveals himself, that Jesus turns to his disciples and says, “Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest”. This is a reassuring invitation being made by the Lord. It is an invitation made to those who are simple and humble of heart. Those who have come to know God and desire to live under his guidance and protection can turn to him for help and support.

It is an invitation being made to each of us to place our lives with their burdens and worries before him. The Lord does not want us to carry our burdens alone.

Yet is it not true that we so often try to battle on by ourselves?
The true disciple is one who has entrusted his or herself to the Lord. The true disciple knows that he or she is under the protection of the Lord. The true disciple knows that the Lord is with them in the midst of their lives whatever form it takes.

Today we can see two things from this passage:
1. The Lord rejoices in us in our simplicity and faith.
2. The Lord invites us to entrust all our anxieties and burdens to him.

So, my brothers and sisters, let us come before the Lord in this Mass in a humble and trusting spirit. Let us open our hearts to him, particularly when we receive Holy Communion. Let us entrust ourselves and our burdens to him.

In this way we are enabling the Lord to come to our aid. We are enabling Him to show His great love for us. Let us take us this invitation from the Lord: “Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest”.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Friday, 4 July 2014