Baruch 4: 5-12, 27-29
Take courage, my people,
who perpetuate Israel’s name!
It was not for destruction
that you were sold to the nations,
but you were handed over to your enemies
because you angered God.
For you provoked the one who made you
by sacrificing to demons and not to God.
You forgot the everlasting God, who brought you up,
and you grieved Jerusalem, who reared you.
For she saw the wrath that came upon you from God,
and she said:
Listen, you neighbors of Zion,
God has brought great sorrow upon me;
for I have seen the exile of my sons and daughters,
which the Everlasting brought upon them.
With joy I nurtured them,
but I sent them away with weeping and sorrow.
Let no one rejoice over me, a widow
and bereaved of many;
I was left desolate because of the sins of my children,
because they turned away from the law of God.
Take courage, my children, and cry to God,
for you will be remembered by the one who brought this upon you.
For just as you were disposed to go astray from God,
return with tenfold zeal to seek him.
For the one who brought these calamities upon you
will bring you everlasting joy with your salvation.
Psalm 69: 32-36
Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
For the Lord hears the needy,
and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and everything that moves in them.
For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah;
and his servants shall live there and possess it;
the children of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall live in it.
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
In the modern adaptation of the movie Ben Hur, the film goes into the backstory of the villain Messala. The writers attempt to rationalize how he became evil with the numerous hurts and pressures he had his whole life. In contemporary storytelling, writers are trying more and more to bypass culpability. They try to explain away someone’s bad behavior so that they are not to blame. It forgets that humans are weak and give in to sin and can be overcome by pride and greed and other deadly sins. Despite bad circumstances, though, people are responsible for their own actions and choose for themselves whether they do good or evil in the same way they choose whether to follow God or not.
Today’s readings emphasize the importance of humility. In the first reading, the prophet Baruch teaches the people how they were mistreated as a result of disobeying and abandoning God but can regain their salvation and favor. They must return to the Lord in repentance of having gone astray and they can be assured God will forgive them and deliver them. Admitting one’s fault and apologizing can be one of the hardest things to do. No one wants to be the guilty party. It is perhaps the greatest death to pride to admit one’s fault, take responsibility, and apologize to the offended party. It puts you at the mercy of the one who was wronged and makes you extremely vulnerable.
While apologizing can be a terrifying thing, the result is predictable. As Christians, we know what will happen when we make ourselves vulnerable to God and apologize for offending Him. He will forgive us, grant us salvation, and welcome us fully back into His embrace. He will not hold a grudge or bitterness towards us but welcome us back with open arms. All we need to do is come to Him. We do not have to earn our forgiveness or salvation or favor with God. All we have to do is humble ourselves.
It is a great thing, in the Christian walk, to be able to cast out demons and heal the sick and perform all sorts of miracles in Jesus’s name. Yet, God does not require that of us. It is more pleasing to Him for us to humble ourselves like little children and come to Him. Today, as we honor our Lady of the Rosary, who is the ultimate example of humility for mankind, offer up a rosary asking God to show you the areas in your life where you are not humble and offer them to Jesus.
Prayer: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.