humility

‘This is exquisitely divine’

From Pope Francis homily at Jasna Góra:

​’To be attracted by power, by grandeur, by appearances, is tragically human. It is a great temptation that tries to insinuate itself everywhere. But to give oneself to others, eliminating distances, dwelling in littleness and living the reality of one’s everyday life: this is exquisitely divine.’

(Full text here)

God bless you!

St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese is my favourite Saint (except of course Mary, my mother), or more accurately, my best friend in heaven. I love her deeply, and thought I would give her a brief introduction, so you might discover or rediscover her.

The funny thing about St. Therese, is it’s difficult to say if she’s very ordinary or extraordinary. She clearly thought of herself as completely ordinary. But this ordinary young nun has made a truly extraordinary impact on the world, and on those she personally knew. Of all the unlikely people to change the world, few are as out of the blue as her. Perhaps the carpenter’s son…

And it’s just this paradox of the extraordinary ordinary that characterises her. Her greatness doesn’t lie in any special talents or abilities or genius. She performed no great feats or miracles. To all human eyes, she was not made for greatness. But God doesn’t judge by our standards, and like the little King David, she had a heart after the Lord’s own heart.

She is extraordinary only because of her extraordinary love and trust in Jesus. That is all she had, but that’s all we need, and all that counts.

So please, get to know St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. Her autobiography, ‘The Story of a Soul’, is available for free online, although you’ll want a copy once you read it. There’s a very good reason she’s been called the greatest Saint of modern times, and a favourite of Bl. Mother Teresa and Pope Francis, among many others.

For some time I had been accustomed to offer myself as a plaything to the Child Jesus. I told Him not to treat me like an expensive toy which children look at but dare not touch. I was a cheap little ball which He could fling on the ground or kick or pierce or leave neglected in a corner or even press to His Heart if it gave Him pleasure. To put it in a nutshell, I longed to amuse the little Jesus and offer myself to His childish whims.

He answered my prayer. In Rome, Jesus pierced His little toy. He wantedto see what was inside and then, having found out, He let His little ball drop and went to sleep. What did He dream about and what happened to the abandoned ball? Jesus dreamt that He was still playing with it, picking it up and dropping it, letting it roll away from Him, but in the end pressing it close to His Heart and never letting it slip again from His little Hand. You can understand, Mother, how sad the little ball was to see itself lying on the ground, but she went on hoping against all hope.

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God bless you

 

Me and the Cross

I don’t really talk much about my own life here, and certainly not about my mental health. Suffice to say for now, that it feels like its falling apart; like everything I have relied on and hoped for is being lost before my eyes.

And it serves me right. Why? Because I literally asked for it. It was for a long time my prayer, and still is, that God humble me completely. I guess I just didn’t see it looking like this…

As my “everything” seemingly falls apart (I suspect and hope the situation in many ways isn’t as bad as it sometimes feels), I see that I’ve been trusting and hoping in things that aren’t God. And that’s the way to certain disappointment. Yes, I was hoping in God too, but not in God alone.

When I reached my recent lowest, I felt and believed that all that I have and I am is nothing, that all that I have and I am is completely worthless and useless. What could anyone possibly want with me? What could God ever do with this?

But this is pride. To suppose that my weakness– my nothingness– limits God in any way, is madness.

‘Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.’
2 Corinthians 12:8-10

I look to the cross, and I see that God isn’t victorious by strength, but by faith and obedience. It is in Christ crucified, and in Him alone, that I am to place my trust. It is by dying to self, living in reckless sacrificial love, in union with His holy cross, that I am to live and serve God.

‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.’
Philippians 3:10-11

So here’s me. However much or little (or nothing) I am, I am God’s, and that is all I need. I’m not called to be strong or talented or valuable, but merely faithful; the victory is His concern, not mine: how could I ever achieve resurrection?

I just hope and pray God lets me remember and accept this when I really need to.

God bless you
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P.S. I feel I should also mention, that a part of this feeling of losing everything was the loss of my supposed righteousness when I fell to a certain sin. Thank God I lost this illusory righteousness. I am a sinner, and my only justification is God’s love for me.

I have no righteousness, but I share in Jesus’ own. I have no life in me, except His.

God bless you again

“We ask the Lord, in this Advent season, to bring us nearer to his mystery and to do so the way that He wants us to do: the way of humility, the way of meekness, the way of poverty, the road where we feel sin. So that he can come to save us, to free us. May the Lord give us this grace.”
-Pope Francis

http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-mass-a-humble-heart-knows-god-theology-is-don

Jesus rejected

Jesus was laid in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Before he had even been born, he was being rejected. And this was the way throughout his entire life, culminating in his crucifixion. He often offended those with any authority, position, or respectability, and was, by the usual measure of influence, a failure. Everyone who was anyone had something against him. It was with the failures, the useless, and the rejects, the poor, the disabled, and the unrighteous, that Jesus was accepted.

Why? I believe it is Jesus’ generosity and meekness. Jesus gave himself so unreservedly, that he was truly free. He wasn’t aiming for any repayment, and so his gifts were entirely his own, and for his own purposes. When he preached, it wasn’t to gain followers to satisfy his vanity or desire for power, but simply to bless, liberate and save whoever would listen. By his life and teaching, he presented in complete freedom, the truly good life; and so his perfect generosity, was completely demanding.

No matter how rich, powerful, or respectable you might be, there is no way you could bribe or lobby Jesus; and nothing made them feel so powerless. All who considered themselves rich, whether by wealth, power, or even righteousness before God, found this man a mad fool, driven by demons to be in all ways poor and lowly, when he might be great and rich. And his staunch and mindless poverty, by its disregard weakened their own richness, and was spreading to all the lowly of the world.

The only people who would accept Jesus, were those who knew themselves to be truly poor, with no hope of buying this man. Only the poor can truly accept a gift. And so Jesus was sent to the poor, the lame, the blind, the prostitutes, the sinners and tax collectors, to welcome them, to be most truly and uncontrollably theirs.

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Matthew 5:3

When Jesus was dying upon the cross, it was only the man dying beside him who asked to be remembered, and was then promised to be with him paradise. Only those with nothing but the mercy of others, can accept a crucified saviour. For anyone else, he is too ugly, too messy, too weak.

Yet, even nailed to the cross, he is radically free, because he is always giving. In his injuries he gives forgiveness, in his suffering he gives love, in his death he gives life. He accepts the crucifixion meekly, but then blesses it with the resurrection. He enters all weakness, and provides God’s creative strength. As St. Francis said,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, let me sow pardon.
Where there is doubt, let me sow faith.
Where there is despair, let me sow hope.
Where there is darkness, let me sow light.
Where there is sadness, let me sow joy.

And so we may see the truth of Jesus’ words,

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.’ Mt 5:5

It is the meek, the undemanding, who are truly free, and shall truly liberate. They are rejected, and they are lowly, but they scatter their seed freely, and it bears fruit. They live love, and the lowly learn love from them, and the world is transformed from its base. In the midst of their rejection, they build solidarity; In sin, they forgive; In division they bring unity; In conflict they make peace; In hatred they love; and in all things, they bear the almighty God, who to bring down the powerful from their thrones and uplift the lowly (Lk 1:52) was incarnate, born as a baby, and laid in a manger.

Lord, reveal to me my poverty, and teach me your meekness.

God bless you

Pope Francis

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‘I prefer a church that is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out in the streets rather that a church that is unhealthy from being confined and clinging to its own security.’
Pope Francis

I love Pope Francis. Everyone does.
It’s hard to put my finger on why exactly. Of course, a lot seem to love a fake Francis of their own creation (much like with St. Francis of Assisi); but I think this is just because they know he’s incredibly lovable, and have no choice but to co-opt him, or listen to him. Considering how lively he is, their versions of Francis are remarkably lifeless (they love to place him in a long dead paradigm).
I think the central brilliance of Pope Francis, is that his chief focus seems to on being a good Christian. Head of state, priest, Bishop, Pope, one of the most powerful men in the world, all seem to come second to being a Christian. Not only second, but his concern for these roles is (I believe) entirely derived from his role of lowly Christian.
Previously, the Pope was seen as the definitive Churchman, just because he headed the hierarchy; Pope Francis has made the definitive Churchman, the lowly Churchman.
I don’t doubt that previous Popes were also Christians first, yet Pope Francis has made it incredibly evident. I’d say undeniable, but there are always some.
Crucially, our Pope is a call to action, to live radically by the gospel. That is his mission, and that is why he is Francis. To continously recall us to the gospel, to poverty, to humility, to radical love, to the cross, and ultimately to Christ himself.

‘In this day and age unless Christians are revolutionaries they are not Christians.’

‘To become saints only one thing is necessary: to accept the grace which the Father gives us in Jesus Christ.’

‘Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”‘
Evangelii Gaudium n. 3

God bless you, and pray for the Pope!

As a little child

I’ve decided to change the name of this blog from, ‘JRahi’s words’ to, ‘As a little child’. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus says,

Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Amen I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter into it. [Mark 10:14-15]

When I was a child, I found these words very exciting and encouraging, and firmly decided that I would remain a child forever. Looking back, I wonder if such a joyful, confident and simple decision is a perfect example of receiving the kingdom as a child. I saw, I rejoiced, and I grasped.

I’m not sure how well I followed up that decision. I believe there were periods in my childhood of horrible, unchildlike pride. But I seriously value my childhood because of this verse, and trust greatly in my childish wisdom (it was when I tried to be wise like grown-ups that I became proud and foolish).

So I’m changing the name to ‘As a little child’, as a reminder of my decision and my call to always be a little child before God. The great danger of religion is pride. The grown-up way of learning is to listen, and then craftily deny in such a way that it looks as if you are accepting. But children listen in simplicity and accept. The grown-up way places barriers everywhere, forbidding people to come to Jesus, and limiting his grace. The childish way accepts, loves, and follows, and takes the hands of loved ones to lead them to him.

So I’m changing the name to rebuke my pride, and to recall the heart of the gospel. Please pray with me that it will do so, and that this blog will serve God under its new name.

Thank you and God bless you.