Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

2/25/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Let us learn to walk the way of way of downward mobility and pick up the Cross of the compassionate life.Fortunately, the Lord has given us a Francis for this time in the Chair of Peter. He shows us the way in word and in deed. As we prepare to enter into the Great Lent, let us walk the Way of Downward Mobility.

God became the least of these in the Incarnation of His Son. Will we be emptied of ourselves, in order to become men and women for others, conformed to the One who emptied Himself for us? When we do learn to empty ourselves, He comes and takes up His residence within us.Then, we become His arms, embracing the world; His legs, still walking its dusty streets; and His Heart, still beating with the Divine Compassion. We become like Jesus Christ, the One who became the least of these in order to bring us all into the full communion of love.

Simon of Cyrene and Jesus

Simon of Cyrene and Jesus

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/25/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in Daily Homilies

Keywords: Downward Mobility, Henri Nouwen, Simon the Cyrene, spiritual childhood, self denial, become as a child, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - The Gospel on Tuesday of the last full week before the beginning of Lent is from St. Mark. Jesus is trying to share a deeper message with his disciples. One which will help them be prepared for what will be required of them as He enters into His Passion. He is also trying to prepare them for the work ahead, after He confers upon them His continuing mission. The interchange is so deeply human. It is also one which we should certainly identify with, if we are honest about our weaknesses:

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee,but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them,"The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him,and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise." But they did not understand the saying,and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,he began to ask them,"What were you arguing about on the way?" But they remained silent.For they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all." Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them,"Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;and whoever receives me,receives not me but the One who sent me." (Mark 9:30-37)


His effort to impart to them the liberating effects of living the Gospel paradox of emptying themselves in order to be filled with Divine Life - runs head on into the limitations of their own humanity. If we are honest about ourselves, we know the problem well.

Yet, part of what that Lord seeks to show them - and to show us - is that when we choose to stop making ourselves the center of our own lives, He then gives us the grace to find this New Way of Life. We are invited by the Lord to choose to empty ourselves of ourselves - in order to be make room for Him to live His very Life within us - and through us for others. 

Jesus also said to his disciples, Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?'(Mark 8)

Only grace can open a man or woman to the deeper mystery of self denial as the path to freedom and liberation. The older I get, the more I understand that I can only find it by walking behind the Lord in the shadow of His Cross. When I reflect in prayer upon the Lord carrying His own cross, I begin to see the reality of my own tendency to self-centered pursuits.

Jesus invites us to join Him, to become another Simon the Cyrene. (See, Mark 15:20,21) When we do, we begin to find that His burden truly is light. He teaches us the liberating way of downward mobility.

The phrase is not my own. It was used by one of the great spiritual writers of our age, Fr. Henri Nouwen, in a book which I highly recommend called Here and Now: Living in the Spirit. Fr. Nouwen writes of the compassionate life. To understand the phrase it helps to remember the etymology of the word. At its root it, compassion means to suffer with; to enter into the suffering of another out of love.

Clearly, this is the Way of Jesus Christ, the Way of the Cross, the Way of Compassion, the way of becoming small so that he might be fully revealed in and through us, for others whom He loves.In today's Gospel, Jesus once again uses the presence of a child to communicate the way of servant-hood, of surrendered love, of downward mobility. Pope St Leo wote of Jesus:

He took the nature of a servant without stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing his divinity. He emptied himself; though invisible he made himself visible, though Creator and Lord of all things he chose to be one of us mortal men. Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence. So he, who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself.

Fr. Henri Nouwen wrote, The compassionate life is the life of downward mobility! In a society in which upward mobility is the norm, downward mobility is not only discouraged but even considered unwise, unhealthy, or downright stupid.

He was correct. Yet, it is hard to hold onto this insight, and even harder to live it. There is nothing new about this difficulty. We see Jesus, who is the Incarnate example of this kind of downward mobility, instructing His disciples in this way repeatedly. Apparently they had the same difficulty we do. Luke records the same scene:

An argument arose among the disciples, about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest. (Luke 9:46-50)

The older I get the more aware I am of my own failures in compassion - and my lack of true love. That is why I am regularly drawn to make an examination of conscience by reflecting on the profound words of Jesus recorded in the 25th chapter of St. Matthews Gospel. When all is said and done, we will be judged on whether we loved Him as He is revealed in those whom He loves.

I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was naked and you gave me clothing; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison, and you visited me. (Matthew 25.35-36)

It was said of the early disciples that they "turned the world upside down" with their preaching (Acts 17). Well, we still can - in our own day. After all, we are His disciples in this Third Christian Millennium. They offered more than words, they offered lives of self emptied love, of downward mobility. Will we choose to do the same?

Like the Master whom we follow, we are called to become the least of these. That was what Fr. Henri Nouwen meant when he warned of the "lure of upward mobility". He called it the greatest sin of the age. He spoke of God's extraordinary love, revealed in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, as an alternative way, a way of downward mobility.

How extraordinary is this wonderful love of God, revealed in Jesus. How hard it is to comprehend its invitation. The God of the entire universe came among us as a man. He emptied Himself. In His sacred humanity he lived a full and complete human life, walking in intimate communion with His Father. He now makes it possible for us to do the same.

Because He was fully God, Jesus accomplished for us what we could never have accomplished for ourselves, he redeemed us, set us free from the punishment merited by our sin, healed the divisions caused by sin - and capacitated us to live our lives differently now by cooperating with grace. He saved us from and saved us for. He defeated the last enemy, death and overcame the evil one. He did all of this, because He is love Incarnate.

He invites each of us to now walk in His way. St Paul writes of Jesus "Though He was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied Himself" (Philippians 2) The Greek word is kenosis, which means self-emptying love.

God became the least of these in the Incarnation of His Son. Will we be emptied of ourselves, in order to become men and women for others, conformed to the One who emptied Himself for us? When we do learn to empty ourselves, He comes and takes up His residence within us.

Then, we become His arms, embracing the world; His legs, still walking its dusty streets; and His Heart, still beating with the Divine Compassion. We become like Jesus Christ, the One who became the least of these in order to bring us all into the full communion of love.

I end with some more words from Fr. Henri Nouwen, This is the way of downward mobility, the descending way of Jesus. It is the way toward the poor, the suffering, the marginal, the prisoners, the refugees, the lonely, the hungry, the dying, the tortured, the homeless--toward all who ask for compassion. What do they have to offer ? Not success, popularity, or power, but the joy and peace of the children of God.

Let us learn to walk the way of way of downward mobility and pick up the Cross of the compassionate life.Fortunately, the Lord has given us a Francis for this time in the Chair of Peter. He shows us the way in word and in deed. As we prepare to enter into the Great Lent, let us walk the Way of Downward Mobility.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Daily Homilies

Thursday, December 18 - Homily: Take Her into Your Home Watch

Image of Like St. Joseph, Christians must not be afraid to take Mary into their homes and have an intimate spiritual life with Her.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Like St. Joseph, Christians must not be afraid to take Mary into their homes and have an intimate spiritual life with Her. continue reading


The Angel of the Lord Declared unto Joseph: The Angelus of Joseph and the Call to Men Watch

Image of The dream of Joseph. During what are often called the hidden years, because we have little in the Gospel text about them, Jesus was with Joseph and Joseph was with Jesus. Joseph uniquely participated in the mystery of Gods plan of redemption through simply being the man he was called to be. How challenging his witness is in an age of narcissism and inordinate self-love.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Through the Fountain of living water called Baptism, the Father invites each one of us into His new family, the Body of His Son, the Church. He still gives His message and His mission to men who, like Joseph, cultivate ears to hear and then choose to exercise ... continue reading


Wednesday, December 17 - Homily: St. Matthew & Moses Watch

Image of St. Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church, explains that St. Matthew imitates Moses in writing the first Gospel and giving the geneology of Jesus Christ.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

St. Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church, explains that St. Matthew imitates Moses in writing the first Gospel and giving the geneology of Jesus Christ. continue reading


Tuesday, December 16 - Homily: Mt 21:28-32 The Parable of the Two Sons Watch

Image of In the season of Advent, awaiting the coming of Our Lord, let us examine ourselves in both our response to follow the Lord, and the fruits of charity that the Lord expects of us.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the season of Advent, awaiting the coming of Our Lord, let us examine ourselves in both our response to follow the Lord, and the fruits of charity that the Lord expects of us. continue reading


Called into the Vineyard of the Lord in a New Missionary Age Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Do we see the Church as Some-One, the Risen Christ truly present in His mystical Body, into whom we have been Baptized and now live? Do we, like those early believers, understand that to belong to Christ is to belong to His Body and seek to bring the whole world ... continue reading


Friday, December 12 - Homily: Our Lady of Guadalupe Watch

Image of To all of Her servants, Our Lady says,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

To all of Her servants, Our Lady says, "Go and put all your efforts into this", regarding whatever task She gives us. But She never wants us to be frightened, distressed or upset, even in the face of failures, because She, who is our Mother, is here. We are ... continue reading


Thursday, December 11 - Homily: Sts. Damasus and John the Baptist Watch

Image of Fr. Elias on the life of Pope St. Damasus who, although was one of the first popes to not be martyred, went out of his way to promote the veneration of the martyrs.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fr. Elias on the life of Pope St. Damasus who, although was one of the first popes to not be martyred, went out of his way to promote the veneration of the martyrs. One of these martyrs is St. John the Baptist who is mentioned today in the readings and is central ... continue reading


My Yoke is Easy and My Burden is Light Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Our Gospel today is short, but profoundly important:  Jesus said: Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For ... continue reading


Wednesday, December 10 - Homily: Our Lady of Loreto Watch

Image of May Our Lady, like the fortress of Loreto, defend our Faith!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

May Our Lady, like the fortress of Loreto, defend our Faith! continue reading


Tuesday, December 9 - Homily: St. Juan Diego Watch

Image of St. Juan Diego gives us an example of simplicity and humility.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

St. Juan Diego gives us an example of simplicity and humility. continue reading


All Daily Homilies News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Judges 13:2-7, 24-25
2 There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:3-4, 5-6, 16-17
3 Be a sheltering rock for me, always accessible; you ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:5-25
5 In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 19th, 2014 Image

St. Nemesius
December 19: Martyr of Egypt. He was burned alive in Alexandria, Egypt, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter