A True Disciple of Jesus? Spot Your Limitations

How can I attain holiness despite the insufficiencies and weaknesses that I feel abound in me?

Newsdesk (07/09/2022 9:45 PM, Gaudium Press) How many times have we not experienced occasions when we have thought out an entire plan, yet things turn out in a way totally different to what we had envisaged. In fact, however much man may long to be independent, tracing his own ways and paths, life teaches him that he is incapable of steering that way. It is not news that we all have weaknesses and frailties. After all, we are not even the masters of our own noses!  How then can we deal with such setbacks without being overwhelmed by the weight of our own insufficiencies and limitations? This is what this past Sunday’s liturgy teaches us.

“Give our hearts wisdom”

With the passage from the Book of Wisdom, collected for Sunday’s first reading, the Sacred Author highlights how weak, feeble and contingent man is: “For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans.” (Wis 9:14)

He also underlines how flawed is our understanding and how outdated is our knowledge. Indeed, what value is man, the dust formed from this earth? Paradoxically, the Son of God invites this same man to a great and splendid mission: to be His disciple (Cf. Lk 14:27).

How, then, is it possible that God demands of such a fragile creature the heroic path of following Him? If this were not enough, He proposes, as a conditio sine qua non, detachment from the world and a love for the Cross without measure. It would seem an unattainable feat.

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The humble person is truly wise

However, knowing the weaknesses of the human race, Jesus shows us how to carry out this act of heroism in two parables (cf. Lk 14:28-33). In them, both the builder and the king are placed in situations in which, although weak, they must reach a certain goal, such as building a tower or winning a battle.

How to attain success? First of all, sit down and calculate the expenses; that is, look at oneself sincerely and recognise one’s own insufficiency. Then, send messengers to negotiate the conditions of peace, that is, join your hands in prayer and ask God for strength, for without it we will never be worthy disciples of Him.

This recognition of one’s own limitations is of prime importance, for God is only pleased with a humble heart.

In this sense, the story is told of a monk called Moses, who had great physical strength allied to an unusual strength of will. However, shortly after entering religious life, he was subjected to terrible temptations against the angelic virtue of purity.

In order to overcome these trials, he decided to impose on himself heavy penances, fasting and prayers. This he did for a long time, without, however, succeeding in conquering the demon who was pursuing him. One day the holy Abbot Isidore came to him and said: “Henceforth, in the name of Jesus Christ, cease your temptations“.

And so it was, for no such difficulties ever came to him again. Isidore added, however, “Moses, that you might not boast or fall into pride, thinking that by your exercises and efforts you had overcome [the devil], God permitted such an extensive temptation for your benefit.”[1]

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In this way, in light of what happened to the monk Moses, it is up to us to echo the prayer of the Psalmist: “Give our hearts wisdom” (89:3). Wisdom which consists in humility: recognizing that, on our own, we can do nothing. And, on the other hand, without ever losing enthusiasm; for thus cries the truly humble one: “I can do all things!” – and then adds – “in Him who comforts me” (cf. Phil 4:13).

Let us implore the Blessed Virgin, Seat of Wisdom and abyss of humility, to obtain this grace for us through her maternal intercession.

Por Jerome Sequeira Vaz

[1] Cf. RODRIGUES, Afonso. Exercícios de Perfeição e Virtudes Cristãs. São Paulo: Cultor de Livros, 2017, v. 2, p. 314.

Compiled by Roberta MacEwan

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