I am going to tell you a secret about myself today! I have kept this for a very long time but I am feeling that it is time for me to spill the beans….I am sure many people have adjusted their sitting positions in order to get this long kept secret. The truth is that there is no secret but I wish to reflect on secret today…sorry to disappoint!
The rapt attention that prevailed when I made mention of sharing a secret about myself is an indication that secret, both as a word and as a phenomenon, is very powerful. Secret has to do with something hidden and known to either one person or a select few. A secret is powerful because it contains knowledge or information that can lead to so many positive or negative things. When someone shares a secret with you, there is an indication that the person in question sees you as valuable, trustworthy and credible.
Generally, the world strives on secrets and we all have secrets as individuals, families, groups, organisations, institutions and so on. One outstanding story about secret in the bible is the popular encounter between Samson and Delilah. Samson’s source of strength was anchored on his hair (dread locks) and it was a secrets that he was not supposed to divulge as that would boomerang. Delilah, who was a spy to the Philistines, tried to get this secret for them and succeeded after several trials and failures from Samson’s prior misdirection. When Samson’s secret was unlocked, he became weak and was overpowered by the Philistines.
Another important subject in our reflection today is humility. Humility is the condition or state of being humble. Humble is the adjectival form that indicates a state or condition of lowliness or submission. Thomas Aquinas traces it to the Latin humilitas derived from humus which means soil or earth. So to be humble is to be down-to-earth. The antonym of humility is pride and it seems that we are often prone to the framework of pride and that makes humility a rare and revered aptitude.
In the gospel reading today (Matt. 11:25-30), our Lord Jesus Christ made one of those confusing prayerful declarations. It was a prayer, a wish as well an answer to some silent questions. We are told that he declared among other things: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to infants”. Certain questions are anticipated from this: “What are the hidden things, if you like secrets, and who are the infants?” Upon a careful reading one would find the answers in what we have established already above.
We have earlier pointed out that a secret is a hidden knowledge or information that could have positive or negative consequences. In this regard, our Lord Jesus Christ mentioning “hidden things” was referring to committed knowledge of God; which is one of the major reasons why God created us going by what we were taught in our catechism. Knowledge of God is very primary (Hosea 4:6) because it moves us to love God and then serve and be with Him forever.
This knowledge of God is what we gain by our personal commitment borne out of love with the consequent saving effects. It is also gained directly from divine revelation; of course our Lord mentioned in the gospel passage that it is revealed to infants.
By mentioning infants we should not think of human beings who are physiologically undeveloped, rather we can make reference to innocence, lowliness, bendability, and submissiveness that constitutes infancy. It could be recalled that our Lord answering the question as to who is the greatest in the kingdom of God did say: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:1-4). The infant here is the person who is ready to receive God wholly without unnecessary questions. The one who is ready to follow God without looking at his or her rank or position. The one who is lowly and makes total submission to God. The one who is ready to bear the burden and learn from the Lord as he instructed: “Take my yolk and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29).
Like Nicodemus (John 3:1f) some of us may be wondering how we could achieve this infancy and then be able to receive the hidden things. The answer could be found in the second reading today (Romans 8:9; 11-13). Here St. Paul tells us that we can achieve the infancy (humility) by living according to the prompting of the spirit not that of the flesh. This is where we face the most challenge; being able to be in the flesh and not to live by the flesh. It is a challenge and at the same time our only chance.
Our world of today is on a geometric rise as regards profanity and the life of the flesh. Imagine how many people that you find in the saloon, spa, gym, club houses and drink lounges on weekends and the number you find praying privately in the Church or making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Imagine how many phones we use in a year and how many cars we use intermittently and the last time we saw and used our bibles and rosaries. Imagine the attention we give to our television and the one we give to few minutes of prayers; often we complain that the mass is too long but we hang out all night! Imagine how many times we consult our account officers, doctors, lawyers, builders, friends and associates and the last time we consulted our priest for a spiritual direction or counselling!
Humility is noble but costly. It involves detachment from the flesh and attachment to the spirit. If we are humble then we can bend low to learn and understand those hidden things that will help us to advance and acquire everlasting life with God in heaven. One thing is clear, this flesh does not have the gift of forever. It will one day die and rot no matter how long it stays here on earth, but the soul, which the spiritual aspect of us, survives the body and should then be given our wholesome attention.
We may not end this reflection without looking into the invitation our Lord Jesus Christ gave to us within last verses of the gospel reading today. He said:
“Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. (Matt.11:28-30).
This invitation is a highly important one for anyone who has an attentive and reflective mind. It is an invitation to depend and rely on God in the face of the difficulties and trials that may face us at some points in our lives. Often we find ourselves labouring and being highly burdened with various temporal and spiritual loads. At such times, some of us run to the wrong places and to the wrong persons. This invitation is reminiscent of God’s welcome address to us in the book of Isaiah (25:6-9); to the mountain where he will prepare a great meal for us without charge, where he will wipe away all the tears from our eyes and remove the mourning veil from our faces.
As we match into the new week, let us be mindful of the fact that God is compassionate and kind to the humble and those who are heavily burdened much as they put their trust in Him (Col.3:12). To them He will not only reveal the hidden divine realities, but will also answer them in times of trouble (Psalm 20:1)
Have a thoroughly blessed and productive week ahead.
2 responses to “GOD’S SECRET FOR THE HUMBLE HOMILY FOR THE 14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD”
Padre, this is very inspiring. God bless you. Do more indeptly
Thanks Fr. for the all-round and inspiring reflection. God’s wisdom I pray for you as you nourish the lives of his people with His word. Kudos!