“Lord, we are blind, and quickly seduced by vanity.” (IC 3,41,2) | “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert” (Ps 95:8)

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XLI: “Of the Contempt of all Worldly Honor” (second entry)

Above we have the disciple’s immediate response to Christ’s telling him to not be concerned about being humiliated, despised, or receiving contempt from his fellow man. The disciple, realizing his weakness, knows that pride will rear its ugly head with a vengeance if provoked by the attacks of others. He concludes that he cannot complain since he has done far worse to God and thus must content himself with this deserved treatment.

|Today’s responsorial psalm: Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

This psalm praises God for His glory and majesty and looks back with regret at the defiance of the Israelites in the desert whom the Lord rescued from Egypt. Their constant complaining and lack of trust in Yahweh ensured that “They shall never enter my rest.” And none did but the noble Joshua and Caleb.

|Reflection

What is hardening one’s heart but vanity that is a result of pride? The Israelites in the wilderness thought they had a better idea than God their savior so they told their leader Moses what they thought in defiance of the Almighty. So, too, we disciples, thinking we know better how the Lord should treat us and what’s best for us, let our haughtiness rule our actions. Do we really think that “we don’t deserve” this offensive treatment?

I never heard anything bad said of me which I did not clearly realize fell short of the truth. If I had not sometimes–often, indeed–offended God in the ways they referred to, I had done so in many others, and I felt they had treated me far too indulgently in saying nothing about these” (Teresa of Jesus, Way of Perfection, 15).

Is this easy to swallow? Not in our condition. But the eternal rewards of accepting humiliations helps us increase in humility and the reception of even greater graces. As for justice, leave that up to God to mete out — He has got it covered perfectly (us, not so much).

Now, it may be necessary to defend oneself against particular allegations, but it should always be done in humility with no desire for revenge assuming the best possible motives. Our good example will be a sign for all observers (including the attacker, but especially Jesus Christ) that we are Christians of good will who desire only the best for every person, friend or enemy. This attitude, widely adopted, will be more effective in changing hearts and minds than any imposed program to legislate morality.

St. Teresa of Jesus

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