March 24, 2014
When I first started working for the Catholic Church, I was a naive, twenty-one year old recent college graduate, eager to share all I had learned with the fifth graders I was hired to teach. I thought I had learned all I needed to know in school, and teaching would be a breeze. After all, I had endured twelve years of Catholic School education, and had a degree from a Catholic University. Teaching fifth graders in a Catholic School would be a piece of cake.
There is nothing like the lesson of humility, courtesy of children! They unknowingly brought me to my senses, and reminded me of the special gift they were to me. They challenged me to grow, encouraged me to play, and unintentionally reminded me that it was not all about me. It was about this mission that God had given to me. All the glory of any success I had belonged to God, and God alone. It is a lesson I still treasure today.
As I read the words of Pope Francis from this morning’s homily, I was again reminded of the quality of humility that we must all possess to continue living this mission of God. He recalls the words of the Magnificat, one of my favorite prayers, and says:
"In her Canticle Mary does not say she is happy because God was looking to her virginity, to her kindness or to her sweetness – all of them virtues that she possessed – no: because the Lord was looking to her humility, the humility of His servant, her smallness. This is what the Lord looks for. And we must take heed of this wisdom and put ourselves on the margins so that the Lord may find us. He will not find us at the center of our certainties. That is not where the Lord looks. He will find us on the margins, in our sins, in our mistakes, in our need for spiritual healing, for salvation; that is where the Lord will find us”.
I am sure it is no coincidence that this thought comes to me today. I, along with many others from our Diocese, am preparing to head up to Sacramento to celebrate the Installation of Bishop-Elect Cotta as Auxiliary Bishop, a wonderful occasion of celebration! Since the announcement, however, what has been exhibited is an amazing sign of humility on the part of all our clergy, especially from Bishop-Elect Cotta himself. Yes, we are very proud of one from our Diocese being recognized and honored in this way, but at the same time, the knowledge that this honor comes from God, and is for the glory of God.
I have been so blessed to meet many members of the clergy, at all levels, who have modeled this for God’s people. These men have placed their lives at the service of God, knowing that they are being recognized for the gifts that God gave them, and they put those gifts in the hands of God to be used.
The lessons I have learned from these wonderful, humble men are many. We are the instruments that God uses, the hands and feet that are able to do the work, meet with people and bring God’s love to those who are seeking. Offering our lives to God is not easy; sometimes God sends us to places we would never choose; but offering our lives means living the plan God has set out for us.
I thank all the wonderful leaders of our church that God has put in my path for being true examples of the humble ways of a servant of God.
And I offer thanks and congratulations to Bishop-Elect Cotta, for his time here with the Diocese of Fresno, and wish him many blessings on this new part of his journey of service. May God continue to bless him with the wonderful compassion and humble spirit that he has shared with us.