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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

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Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Psalm 50
Matthew 23:1-12

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march madness

"Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, but whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." —Matthew 23:12

It's March, and in the USA college basketball tournaments, known fondly as "March Madness," are in full swing. Hundreds of athletes have trained diligently for months and are competing for the chance to be exalted as "Number One."

An athlete practices to make his or her vertical jump higher and jump shot more accurate. We disciples of Jesus, however, must train ourselves to grow in humility much more diligently than any athlete trains to win a tournament. "Athletes deny themselves all sorts of things" to win a contest (1 Cor 9:25), but "the discipline of religion" and training in humility "with its promise of life here and hereafter" is "incalculably more" important than any athletic contest (1 Tm 4:8). They train to win a trophy; we train to spend eternity with Jesus!

This Lent, let us work much harder at discipleship, especially in the virtue of humility. We can practice growing in humility by:

  • actively seeking "the lowest place" (Lk 14:10),
  • keeping our deeds of mercy secret (Mt 6:4),
  • fasting so that no one is aware of it (Mt 6:16-18),
  • taking the less desirable tasks and chores,
  • decreasing so that Jesus increases (Jn 3:30), and
  • forgiving and serving those who hurt us.

"Bow humbly under God's mighty hand, so that in due time He may lift you high" (1 Pt 5:6).

Prayer:  Father, I will clothe myself with humility (1 Pt 5:5) and continually exalt You as Lord (Ps 34:4, RNAB).

Promise:  "Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow." —Is 1:18

Praise:  Joanna would practice doing undesirable tasks by picking up litter on her street.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 16, 2005

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