Pope Francis: 'God acts in humility, in silence, in the little things': Homily March 9, 2015

(Vatican Radio) God acts in humility and in silence; “spectacle” is not His style. That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass on Monday in the Casa Santa Marta. 

Jesus rebukes people of Nazareth for their lack of faith

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In the Gospel of the day, Jesus rebukes the inhabitants of Nazareth for their lack of faith: at first, the Pope said, they listened with admiration, but later they exploded “with anger, with outrage”: In that moment, this people, who had heard with pleasure what Jesus had said, but did not like what He had said to one, two, or three of them; and perhaps some gossip had stood up and said, ‘But who is this who’s come to talk to us? Where has he studied in order to say these things to us? Let’s see his degree! This is the son of the carpenter, we know him.’ Fury erupted, and even violence. ‘And they drove Him out of the town, and led Him to the brow of the hill’… they wanted to throw Him down!”

Humility is God’s style

The first Reading speaks about Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, who was a leper. The prophet Elisha tells him to wash himself seven times in the Jordan to be healed, and yet Naaman was indignant because he expected a grand gesture. But then he listened to the advice of the servants, and did what the prophet said, and he was cleansed of leprosy. The inhabitants of Nazareth were like Naaman, the Pope said. “They wanted a spectacle,” but “the style of the good God is not to produce a spectacle: God acts in humility, in silence, in the little things.” This begins with Creation, the Pope said, where the Lord does not use a “magic wand,” but creates man “with mud.” It is a style that runs through “the whole of salvation history”:

“When He desired to free His people, He freed them through the faith and confidence of a man, Moses. When He desired to cause the fall of the powerful city of Jericho, He did so through a prostitute. And for the conversion of the Samaritans He required the work of another sinner. When He invited David to fight against Goliath, it seemed crazy: the little David standing before that giant, who had a sword, who had so many things, while David had only a sling and the stones. When He told the Magi that a King was born to them, the Great King, what did they find? A little child, a manger. The simple things, the humility of God… this is the divine style, never the spectacle.”

God works in humility, not spectacles

The Pope noted that “one of the three temptations of Jesus in the desert” was to create a spectacle. Satan invites Him to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple so that, seeing the miracle, the people might believe in Him. “The Lord, instead, is revealed in simplicity, in humility,” he said. “It would do us good this Lent,” the Pope said, “to consider how the Lord has helped us in our lives, and how the Lord has led us onward. We will find that the Lord has always done this with simple things.”

He concluded, “This is how the Lord acts: He does things simply. He speaks silently to you, to the heart. Let us remember in our lives the many time we have felt these things: the humility of God is His style; the simplicity of God is His style. And even in the liturgical celebration, in the sacraments, what is beautiful is that which manifests the humility of God, and not the worldly spectacle. It would do us good to journey through our life and to consider the many times the Lord has visited us with His grace, and always with this humble style, the style He calls us, too, to have: humility.”

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Timothy Vickery
2 years 7 months ago
It at once seems so far from the truth of reality but at the same time is the truth. I still remember to this day how God reached out to me once. And to be sure, it was a spectacle of sorts (movies are made of such things), but it was simple. An act of loving friendship and heroism. Someone else's conscience said to them they would not stand for something wrong done to me. But in that moment I learned what love was truly. It was selfless and heroic. In itself, the logic or wisdom was so simple. Later, I would read one day that a man has no greater love... And I don't need to recite the rest. It was at that moment when a virtual stranger stood up for me that I believed. It would take me many more years to appreciate, but I believed. It was astounding in my eyes. It was only later through Catholicism and indoctrination that I slowly learned that God was always there, even and especially in the most mundane things of life... and in Catholic logic, that gradually made increasingly more sense. I also think this is why so many soldiers and war vets come to Christ. They see in camaraderie a kind of love that changes everything. The men who do it are hardly Rhode scholars. But notwithstanding that simple act pierces through every layer of human prejudice or presumption. It definitely destroys the cynicism that so much social injustice is founded upon.
Bruce Snowden
2 years 7 months ago
At first glance the assertion that "God acts in humility" struck me as odd, but on reflection I found myself understanding better that claim, considering that humility is all about recognizing truth - "I am who I am, nothing more, nothing less", an accurate definition of the Almighty God, who is Truth itself. So yes, God is the perfection of humility. That God also "acts in silence" was easier to understand. So silent is God that his words are often like a whispering breeze tip-toeing by, as Abraham discovered. But for those with "ears to hear" the "silence of God" is as discernible as the quietness of children at play in a favorite game, "Hide and Seek," wherein God may hide as we seek, or we may hide as God seeks. When it happens you know it! That "God acts in little things" is so abundantly clear as to be the norm. To "little ones" he reveals the Kingdom. God's preferential choice towards "littleness" is written all over material creation too. He chose a relatively insignificant speck of cosmic dust called Earth, as the launching pad for his "new creation" in Grace, bypassing more splendid orbs as the life, death, resurrection of Jesus Christ, through Redemption was rocketed from our "little Sister" Earth, through the infinity of space. On earth God's activity in fructifying the grandeur of littleness may be noted in the Sequoia of Northern California, where these trees of awesome height that may live two thousand years, begin as a little seed weighing 1/5000 of an ounce! And there is incalculably more, enough to fill libraries, but I must stop as this is only a post with very limited space.

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