September 2021 Allocutio

“He looks on his servant in her lowliness”

Fr Paul Churchill

We might feel at times that our job as Legionaries is to increase our knowledge of God and to help others to know God. But we must be careful. On the one hand are we being presumptuous to think we are up to that task? Then given the enormity of the task might we be put off by it? I also recall the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, “No longer will they teach their neighbour or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord’ …” (Jer. 31:34). But finally we must never forget Our Lord’s own words, “No one can know the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matt 11:27). We are too small and too full of flaws to be able to know God, let alone teach others about him, unless God helps us.

Our job before God is to be humble and to sit quietly before him (or stand or kneel as suits you), to acknowledge his unseen presence, and make ourselves available to him. “Here I am Lord. I really know nothing and am lost. Your reality is too big for me. I can see how I get so many things wrong and go astray. So I place myself in your presence for help, your healing touch. Help me to shed all that is not you, the wrong ideas, the distortions, the presumptions. Grant me a purer understanding and help me see the essentials. Help me, like Mary the sister of Martha, to find the better part. Help me to be cleansed of my imperfect side, my sins and selfishness and any pride in any form. Lord, without your help I can do nothing. So help me to become what you want of me.”

The more humbly we come before God and rely totally on him, shedding our dependence on ourselves, the better we will open ourselves to his influence. We need to get to the stage that nothing (nada as per St. John of the Cross) gets in the way of the incoming grace of God. And we should ask his help to empty ourselves of all the baggage and blockages that get in his way.

There has been no more humble creature than the maiden of Nazareth. She was so humble, albeit helped as we know by God’s grace, that she was open to Gabriel’s visit, to handle it maturely, to say “Yes” to God’s mission and to receive in her womb no less a presence than the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity. She illustrates for us the great value of littleness before God; so humble she could receive all of God. “He looks on his servant in her lowliness … the Almighty works marvels for me”.

By this example and reality in her life she shows us the value of getting rid of all false notions we have of ourselves and of coming humbly before God. There we hand ourselves over to him and let him take control. This is the most important step which sometimes comes in life after a journey of our own striving, trying too hard, going down dead ends, wasting our energies and talents on food that cannot last, on items that do not satisfy (Is 55:1).

When we turn humbly to God and seek his presence we might still feel he is far away. Once we turn to God and present ourselves humbly to him he is with us. We should not be anxious. He is answering us. I was reading some of Padre Pio recently and noted these words of his. Padre Pio asks, “How is it that the fountain of living water which issues from the divine heart should be far from a soul that rushes to it like a thirsty deer? … Let us therefore love to quench our thirst at this fountain of living water and go forward all the time along the way of divine love. But let us also be convinced that our souls will never be satisfied here below”.

If I can return to those words of Jeremiah I mentioned above, “No longer will they teach their neighbour or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord’ …” There is a sense in which we cannot teach anyone about God. Each soul has to be taught by God since each of us is unique and only God really knows us. But we can share our journey, our experience. And in that humble sharing we can encourage each other to persevere and never give up but to stay with God.

And as we go on this journey we must never forget who has the best help for us all if not the humble maiden of Nazareth who has taken this journey, laid herself open to God in her littleness and let him do with her what he wanted. What a fruit she bore.

May you, kind Lady and Mother, help us in our journey to know your Son and to help us encourage one another Amen.