The gift of the humble

As I sat down to eat breakfast this morning I heard a knock on my door. Eliú, a neighbor’s son, brought me some cookies that his aunt Rosaura had sent.

Last night was the novenario, the night and final night of prayer for Rosaura’s husband who died nine days ago.

I went to the rosary in her house and said a few words, but I did not stay around for the long night but walked home.

The gift this morning of a widow touched me deeply, especially after reading the first verse of today’s Gospel, Luke 10:21:

“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned
and revealed them to the children.”

Truly the wisdom of God comes from the poor, as Pope Francis has said.

cross-foucauldThis was made even clearer to me this morning when I read a selection from the autobiography of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who was killed on December 2, 1916, in Tamanrasset, in what is now Algeria.

He had sought to live among the poor as Jesus lived in Nazareth – not preaching, but being a living witness.

He sought to found a community but the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus and the Little Brothers and Sisters of the Gospel emerged years after his death. They live their lives, working as the poor, living among them. Brother Charles and the Little Brothers and Little Sisters have been a inspiration to me since I first met several of them in New York City in the early 1970s.

Blessed Charles’s reflection from June 17, 1916, touches me deeply and offers me a challenge for Advent – how to live more humbly among the poor.

      “The first worshippers, the first company it pleased our Lord to have at his manger, were the most humble, unsophisticated, unimportant and simple people — shepherds.
“He did not merely accept them: he called them, having them called by pure spirits, the angels…
“We should have infinite regard for the most unimportant, humble and unsophisticated people, our brothers [and sisters], honoring them as Jesus’ intimates, realizing that they deserve to be, for they are generally the simplest and purest people, least wrapped in pride. We should mix with them and so far as God wills, be one of them. We should do all possible for their bodies and souls, treating them with honor for the honor of Jesus, and fraternally, so as to have the honor and good fortune of being reckoned one of them. Unhappy is he whose insensate pride despises them whom God puts in the first ranks — ‘as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.’”



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