Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Focus: Humility

Volume 3 No. 179 November 21, 2013

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Psalm 29:3-4
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword

We are into the second week of the season of Advent in the Orthodox Church Calendar. This week we remember the Annunciation to Mary. God is meticulously executing his plan for the redemption of fallen man with incarnation. A crucial step in that process is the word becoming flesh in St. Mary's womb. Before that can happen, Mary has to agree to submit to God. As we meditate on this, we are more and more enamored by the humility of our Theotokos. So, this issue of the Malankara World Journal examines the role of Humility in Christian Life. ...

THIS WEEK IN CHURCH

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (November 24)

Annunciation to St. Mary, Mother of God
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_annunciation_mary.htm

3. Sermons for This Sunday (November 24)

Sermons for the Annunciation to St. Mary
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_annunciation_Mary.htm

4. More Resources On The Annunciation To St. Mary

Malankara World Journal Issue No: 110: This was a Malankara World Journal Special on the Annunciation to St. Mary. Definitely worth reading or re-reading.
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_110.htm

Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary:
For more articles, hymns, prayers, and eBooks on St. Mary, please visit Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary here:

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/shunoyo/StMary.htm

THIS WEEK'S FEATURES

5. Inspiration for Today: No Limits To What God Can Do!

There is no limit to what God will do to save His children. There is no prayer so great that He cannot answer it. There is no injustice so overpowering that He cannot put it right. God can bring healing to our souls and our bodies. ...

6. Featured: Story of Joseph - 2 - Do You Know Why You Were Born?

The story of Joseph continues. We see Joseph's early days. He came from a dysfunctional family in the modern sense. He was betrayed by his jealous brothers for 20 coins to traders who have taken him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar as a slave. This is an amazing story of how God can take a real ordinary man and accomplish extra ordinary things from him. Joseph had not lost faith in the Lord through all these trials and tribulations. The whole story illustrates how God accomplishes his purposes for us even when we are clueless about the big picture. We need a big God to do that and indeed we do have a Big God. ...

7. The Humility of Mary

"Humility," says St. Bernard, "is the foundation and guardian of virtues;" and with reason, for without it no other virtue can exist in a soul. Should she possess all virtues, all will depart when humility is gone. But, on the other hand, as St. Francis de Sales wrote to St. Jane Frances de Chantal, "God so loves humility, that whenever He sees it, He is immediately drawn thither." This beautiful and so necessary virtue was unknown in the world; but the Son of God Himself came on earth to teach it by His Own example. Mary, being the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus Christ in the practice of all virtues, was the first also in that of humility, and by it merited to be exalted above all creatures. ...

8. Humility

Christ, says St. Thomas Aquinas, recommended to us humility above all things, for thereby is removed the chief impediment to the salvation of men. All the other virtues derive their value from it. Only when humility exists will God bestow his favours. When it fades, those gifts will be withdrawn. The Incarnation, the source of all graces, depended on it. Mary says, in the "Magnificat," that in her God has shown might in his arm, that is, he has exerted in her his very omnipotence. And she proclaims the reason. It was her lowliness which had won his regard and brought him down to terminate the old world and begin the new. ..

9. Humility - Virtues of Virgin Mary

St. Augustine tell us that "Humility is the foundation of all the virtues; therefore, in a soul where it does not exist there can be no true virtue, but the mere appearance only. In like manner, it is the most proper disposition for all celestial gifts. And, finally, it is so necessary to perfection, that of all the ways to reach it, the first is humility; the second, humility; the third, humility. And if the question were repeated a hundred times, I should always give the same answer." ...

10. Jesus Has No Need of Armies to Overcome Evil

Pope Francis pointed out the way to distinguish the true light from the false: "Wherever Jesus is, there is always humility, meekness, love, and the Cross." But, he added, sometimes "we find a Jesus that is not humble, that is not meek, that is without love, and without the Cross." So we must follow the true Jesus "without fear," following His light because the light of Jesus "is beautiful and does so much good." ...

11. Poem: Holy Spirit - A Personal Experience

O Lord, My God, I'm so glad to taste Thy love
To know Thee as I do all my life.
Thy love, Thy kindness, so deep and fathomless
That granted me the Holy Spirit today ...

12. Health: Boosting Your Immunity

The immune system of the body is our primary defense and "home maintenance" system. It keeps our body clean of toxins and resistant to invading organisms. It is responsible for detecting and eliminating possible pathogenic organisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses, as well as detecting, destroying and replacing bad, damaged or defective cells from injury. It is kind of like our police and handy man all rolled into one. ...

When you are sick, your immunity falters and then the bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins have the opportunity to cause disease. So, in regards to "germs"… have no fear. As long as your immune system is strong, you have nothing to worry about. Of the men, women and children exposed to germs, only a handful actually manifest the disease. The others' immune systems are able to protect them. ....

13. Family Special: Healing After Abuse

"Experiencing abuse can affect how you feel about yourself and how you respond to other people," Maat says. "These effects might be easy to see if you're observing them in someone else, but they can be nearly impossible to recognize in yourself without help." The emotional and physical abuse that Maat grew up with set the stage for her to become a perpetual victim as an adult, she says. The choices she made and her interactions with others were often unwittingly self-destructive.

"Lifestyle changes that involve healthy choices include eliminating dysfunctional patterns, such as manipulation and abusive behavior – the things children of abusive parents learn from their role models," she says. "A healthy lifestyle comes first through recognizing unhealthy behaviors and then laying the groundwork for positive change." For Maat, that groundwork begins with forgiveness. ...

14. About Malankara World

Foreword
We are into the second week of the season of Advent in the Orthodox Church Calendar. This week we remember the Annunciation to Mary. God is meticulously executing his plan for the redemption of fallen man with incarnation. A crucial step in that process is the word becoming flesh in St. Mary's womb. Before that can happen, Mary has to agree to submit to God. As we meditate on this, we are more and more enamored by the humility of our Theotokos. So, this issue of the Malankara World Journal examines the role of Humility in Christian Life.

In annunciation, the two central figures are Mary and the Holy Spirit. I came across the following extract that is relevant to this discussion:

The Heart Filled with the Holy Spirit

"How shall we call you? Full of grace? Heaven, since you made the sun of justice rise? Paradise, since you caused the flower of incorruptibility to blossom? How shall we call you? Virgin, since you remained incorrupt? Chaste Mother?

"Since you held in your holy arms the Son, God of the universe, implore him so that our souls may be saved." [Compendio liturgico ortodosso, Rimini, 1990]

Liturgical thought tries to link within itself praise, the marvelous, and the paradoxical. From the very beginning of Mary's existence in the Church, it is as if Mary were cloaked in mystery, that kind of mystery which gives rise to the wonderment that caused Elizabeth to cry out: "And how does this happen to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Lk 1:43).

Only the heart, "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Lk 1:41), can recognize these images, because it becomes a womb giving birth to prayers, praise, dogmatic truths and ecclesial feasts. But Mary herself was, and remains, the living temple, the temple of silence where the Word is born. The Word became flesh, not only at the words of the angel, but also in the silence of the Holy Spirit. And indeed, Mary carries within herself the silence of the Holy Spirit. And in silence she comes to live with us, in our hearts, near the fountain of faith in Christ. Silence is another voice of revelation. God sends his Son who also becomes manifest in the care, in the tenderness, in the prayerfulness, and in the presence of his Mother according to the flesh. Martyrdom, that is, the victory over the world and its prince and the last Eucharist of faith, allows the martyr to discover the Virgin Mary. And there is more: Mary's virginity as a sign of the great silence of God is united to humankind in order to save it.

Excerpted from: "The Mother of God in the Orthodox Church", from 'the Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons', Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008.

We are proud to introduce a poem written by Dr. Mercy Abraham, a poet extraordinaire known to the readers of Malankara World with her past poems. The poem is a personal encounter with Holy Spirit like Mary did on the annunciation. If we listen carefully, we all have encounters with the spirit; but we need to listen carefully in the stillness of silence. Dr. Mercy has those moments contemplating at the night in the desert sands of Middle East between serving her patients. Enjoy the poem.

We are into the second article on Joseph, whose life closely resembles the life of Jesus. Joseph is sold to traders from Egypt and taken there. He is then sold to Potipher, an important person in the Government of Pharoh. Joseph does not really understand what is happening to him. But he had deep faith. He submits to God like Mary did when the angel told her of God's plan for the incarnation of His son. God can take an ordinary person and accomplish extraordinary things through him. We just have to be humble and obedient. Humility is prized by God above all virtues.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (November 24)

Sermons for This Sunday (November 24)

More Resources On The Annunciation To St. Mary

Malankara World Journal Issue No: 110

This was a Malankara World Journal Special on the Annunciation to St. Mary. Definitely worth reading or re-reading.

Volume 2 No 110: Nov 22 2012 - Theme: Advent - Annunciation to St. Mary
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_110.htm

Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary

For more articles, hymns, prayers, and eBooks on St. Mary, please visit Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary here:
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/shunoyo/StMary.htm

This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today: No Limits To What God Can Do!

One of God's biggest frustrations must be how lightly some of us interpret the Bible, thinking of His Word as merely a storybook filled with moral lessons to follow and teach our kids. Obey your parents. Do unto others. Turn the other cheek. The Bible, however, is filled with stories of how God, through one person, made the impossible happen. And He wants to do the same thing through us.

It's time for us to live out our lives like we believe God's Word with all our heart, soul, and mind. We must study and apply His promises every day. We must use the Bible as a guide to living the abundant life He has intended for us. God may not duplicate the same biblical miracles we read about, but He can and does perform new ones.

I believe there is no limit to what God will do to save His children. There is no prayer so great that He cannot answer it. There is no injustice so overpowering that He cannot put it right. God can bring healing to our souls and our bodies.

Source: Caroline Barnett (excerpted from Willing to Walk on Water: Step Out in Faith and Let God Work Miracles through Your Life)

Featured: Story of Joseph - 2 - Do You Know Why You Were Born?

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

Scripture: Genesis 37

We begin with the words of Mark Twain who said,

"There are two great days in a person's life - the day we are born and the day we discover why."

One is easier than the other.
One is a date in time.
It's October 4 or March 29 or February 12 or September 26.
It's a moment you celebrate every year.
It's the date when you made your first public appearance.

That date is easy.
The other one isn't.
It's probably not a literal date at all. It's the moment you finally figured out why God put you on planet earth. It's the reason you joined seven billion other people on this ball of dirt floating through space.

The first day explains your presence on earth.
The second explains your purpose.

Often it takes a long time to discover why you were born.
Sometimes it happens very suddenly.

On April 18 of this year, Sean Collier was assigned to a certain intersection on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. Three days earlier, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring over 250 others. A massive manhunt put the whole city on a virtual lockdown. By Thursday evening, the authorities had tracked the bombers to the area around the MIT campus. Police believe that sometime after 10 PM the bombers crept up on Sean Collier's patrol car, shooting him five times. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. He was only 27 years old.

In a statement posted on the university website, MIT Police Chief John DiFava said,

"Sean was one of these guys who really looked at police work as a calling. He was born to be a police officer."

"Born to be a police officer."
It is hard to imagine a finer tribute for a man who died in the line of duty.

We can think of many variations . . .

She was born to be a mother.
He was born to play baseball.
She was born to be a senator.
He was born to be a soldier.
She was born to help the homeless.
He was born to lead a nation.

What were you born to do?
That's a hard question.
You'll spend the rest of your life trying to answer it.

What Do You Want Me to Do?

One year when I was in the pastorate, I analyzed all the questions people asked me either in person or by email. After thinking about all the problems that people have, I realized that most of them boil down to one simple question:

"Lord, what do you want me to do?"

Proverbs 3:5-6 promises that if we will trust in the Lord, he will make our way straight. How exactly does he do that?

Here are seven fundamental facts about God's guidance:

1. He can put you exactly where he wants you to be.
2. He can arrange all the details years in advance.
3. He can open doors that seem shut tight.
4. He can remove any obstacle in your way.
5. He can take your choices and fit them into his plan that you end up at the right place at just the right time.
6. He can even take your mistakes and bring good out of them.
7. He can take tragedy and use it for your good and his glory.

This is what Proverbs 16:9 means when it says that "in his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

So let me ask you a crucial question: Do you know why you were born?

Sometimes we find our calling early.
Often the revelation doesn't come until late in life.
Sometimes others see it before we do.
Often the circumstances of life reveal it to us.

I am thinking of a man who fits that last category. He never knew his purpose for many years of his adult life. It was only after a series of events unfolded, nearly all of them outside his control, and many of them quite painful, that the plan of God for his life became evident.

A Teenager's Quest

This is the story of Joseph, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham.
He was born to save his family.
Genesis 37 introduces him this way:

"Jacob lived in the land of his father's sojournings, in the land of Canaan.
2 These are the generations of Jacob.
Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers"

(Gen. vv. 1-2).

These verses tell us three facts about Joseph:

1. He's 17.
2. He's working in the family business.
3. He doesn't have a clue about his own future.

Life is like that. If we said to Joseph, "Do You Know Why You Were Born?" he would have no idea. He would no doubt presume that he was destined to be a shepherd like his father Jacob, his grandfather Isaac, and his great-grandfather Abraham.

When in doubt, stay in the family business.
Doesn't always happen, but that's a good bet.
At 17, that would probably be his first guess.

But in truth he has no idea of the events that are about to unfold. This strikes me as a crucial point because when we read his story thousands of years later, we know how it all ends. And that colors our estimation of these early events.

Sometimes I am asked how to "discover" God's will? The answer is, you can't.

You don't "discover" God's will.
God's will "discovers" you.

You don't find it.
It finds you.

A Sunrise, Not a Sunburst

I heard someone say that God's will is more like a sunrise than a sunburst. Out of the darkness and chaos of life, God's will rises slowly over the horizon. It's not so much that we see the sun. It's that by the sun we see everything else. So it is with God's will. That reminds me of another common metaphor, the "blueprint" of life.

Does God have a blueprint for your life?
Yes, he does.
But there's only one copy, it's locked up on the third floor of the Administration Building in heaven, and I don't know of any way you can get a copy.

I'm emphasizing a point that is as true for us as it was for Joseph. God's will is revealed to us a little bit at a time, like the sun slowly rising or like a blueprint unrolling before our eyes.

First he was Jacob's favorite son.
Then he was betrayed.
Then he was sold into slavery.
Then he was purchased by Potiphar.
Then he rose in Potiphar's house.
Then he was falsely accused by Potiphar's wife.
Then he was thrown in prison.
Then he met the baker and the butler in prison.
Then the butler forgot him.
Then he stood before Pharaoh.
Then he became the prime minister of Egypt.
Then he met his brothers.
Then he gave his family a home in Egypt.

All of that ended up saving his family and preserving the line of promise.

At the moment we're at the front end of this amazing story. Just remember that when we meet Joseph as he is tending the flocks, he doesn't have a clue about the roller-coaster ride he life is about to become.

A Dysfunctional Family

To back up a bit, there is a 21st-century word that perfectly describes his family. It's a word that you won't find anywhere in Genesis, but it fits nonetheless.

Joseph grew up in a dysfunctional family.
His father Jacob had four wives.
He had 11 brothers scattered among those four wives.
He had one full brother, the youngest child of all, Benjamin.

With all of that, there is bound to be trouble--and there was. Genesis 37:3 says that Joseph was his father's favorite son - the son of his old age. It means he was the first son by Rachel, the woman Jacob always loved.

Joseph was always his favorite.
All the brothers knew it.

The family looks like this:
1 father, 4 mothers, 12 brothers plus one daughter (Dinah).
And one favorite son.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is a disaster waiting to happen. Trouble is brewing right under the surface in Jacob's complicated family.

Out of it will come Joseph who many years down the road will rescue the brothers who betrayed him. As the story opens, there is no reason - none at all - to see any of this in advance. At the beginning, we mostly see dark clouds on the horizon.

From this we glean an important point. Your background is no impediment to your service for the Lord. Joseph came from a family that was in many ways "out of bounds." It certainly was not a neat, clean, one man-one woman nuclear family. He was born into a family where jealousy, comparison, and distrust were the rules of the game. It was not a happy family. Yet God chose Joseph and used him mightily.

Not many of us come from perfect families.
Actually, none of us do because there is no such thing.

"I'm Definitely Darker"

Who said this?

"At the end of the day, who everybody meets in the public eye, the public image, and myself are two different people in a way. It's a very accessible version of me. I'm definitely more introverted. I'm definitely darker. I'm definitely more, at times, pessimistic in real life. I shouldn't say pessimistic. That's a little strong. I'm more pragmatic in real life because I come from a whole different body of experience."

Those are the words of Cory Monteith, star of the hit TV show Glee, who was 31 years old when he died in a hotel room in Vancouver of an overdose of alcohol and heroin on July 13, 2013.

In a 2011 Interview with Parade magazine, he talked about his past experiences with drugs and then made this conclusion:

"I don't want kids to think it's okay to drop out of school and get high, and they'll be famous actors, too. I'm lucky on so many counts - I'm lucky to be alive."

And now he is gone.
The Bible has a lot to say about this:

"What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (James 4:14).

"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom"
(Psalm 90:12).

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"
(Mark 8:36)

The real problems we face are not "out there."
They are always "in here," on the inside.
That's where we fight our greatest battles.

More than two decades before he died, Michael Jackson sang these lyrics:

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change."

There is wisdom here, and a lesson we all need to learn. This world is a messed-up place, and the most messed-up part lies inside the human heart. That's one reason we know the Bible is true. It speaks the truth about the human condition. It doesn't lie to us about our "unlimited potential" or tell us that we are basically okay the way we are at the moment.

It says we are all sinners.
Separated from God.
Dead in our sin.
Spiritually blind.
Unable to help ourselves.

This is where the gospel becomes so incredibly relevant. It doesn't make us feel good and then say, "Just try harder and you will be okay." Often when I preach I will quote the familiar words of Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall of the glory of God." Heads nod approvingly across the auditorium. When I ask about the last phrase of verse 22, no one knows the answer. But that phrase in verse 22 is the key to verse 23.

"For there is no difference" (Romans 3:22b).

No difference between rich and poor.
No difference religious and pagan.
No difference between Jew and Gentile.
No difference between young and old.
No difference between housewife and harlot.
No difference between criminal and choirboy.
No difference between American and Kenyan.

We're all in the same boat, and unless God does something, we're all going to sink together.

We are all broken people. Some of us know it, some of us don't.

If you can relate, this story is for you.
If you come from a broken home, this story is for you.
If you don't get along with your brothers and sisters, this story is for you.
If you were abused, this story is for you.
If your friends lied to you, this story is for you.
If you've done jail time, this story is for you.
If your family doesn't understand you, this story is for you.

Leo Tolstoy began his epic novel Anna Karenina with this first sentence:

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

That is true of Joseph and his brothers. They are an unhappy family and they have their own way of showing it.

Seven Steps from Canaan to Egypt

So how did God's will unfold? At the beginning of Genesis 37 Joseph is tending the flocks with his brothers in Canaan. By the end of the chapter he's a slave in Egypt, his life having taken what appears to be a massive turn in the wrong direction.

But God has other plans in mind for Joseph, plans that require him to be in Egypt. How does a 17-year-old Hebrew shepherd become the prime minister of Egypt? Here are the first few steps on that long journey.

1. He worked in the family business.

Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers (v.2).

2. He stood for different values.

He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father (v. 2).

No doubt Jacob knew that some of his sons were men of low character. Joseph simply reported to his father what he saw and heard.

3. He was marked out as special at an early age.

"Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors" (v. 3).

This is the part of the story that almost everyone knows. The phrase "robe of many colors" translates a difficult bit of Hebrew. It at least means that the coat was richly embroidered, most likely with long sleeves, the sort of robe a son of royalty might wear. We may debate among ourselves about the wisdom of Jacob's gift to his favorite son. Perhaps he should not have made his feelings so obvious, but nothing in the text suggests that he did wrong. By wearing the robe, Joseph signaled to his brothers that he was destined for greatness in his father's eyes. If the robe had long sleeves, it also meant he couldn't work in the fields the same way his brothers did, thus increasing their animosity toward him.

4. He had two strange dreams.

In his first dream (vv. 5-8) he and his brothers were gathering bundles of wheat in a field. When his bundle stood up, the other bundles bowed down before it.

Not too hard to figure that one out.
Needless to say, his brothers weren't happy with what he shared.

The second dream was even more grandiose:

"Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, ‘Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me'" (v. 9).

He told this one to his father and his brothers (v. 10). At first his father rebuked him but later pondered what it meant (v. 11).

5. His brothers hated him more and more.

Note how things have developed in a downward spiral. The text mentions it four times:

V. 4 His brothers hated him.
V. 5 They hated him even more.
V. 8 They hated him even more.
V. 11 His brothers were jealous of him.

No wonder they could not speak kindly to him (v. 4). Soon their anger and envy will lead to a shocking betrayal.

This account is both sad and instructive. Often those closest to us will not recognize God's call on our lives. Many a young person has had to fight through family opposition in order to serve God. Not everyone will applaud your decision to follow Jesus. Some will oppose you openly. Others may criticize you behind your back. In Joseph's case, his brothers are about to commit a heinous crime. They will conspire to kill their own flesh and blood.

All because of envy.

Hebrews 12:15 warns us to see to it that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble. That is precisely what happens here. Centuries later Solomon would write these words: "A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot" (Proverbs 14:30).

These sad words are about to come true. Envy will not only cause trouble, it will nearly destroy the family.

6. His brothers betrayed him.

Now events unfold swiftly:

A. The brothers conspire to kill him (v. 18).
B. When they see him coming, they derisively say, "Here comes this dreamer" (v. 19).
C. They plan to kill him and throw him in one of the nearby pits (v. 20).
D. They ended up throwing him alive into an empty pit (v. 24).

Then comes the most callous act of all:

E. They ate a meal while he was in the pit (v. 25).

While he was screaming for help, his brothers ate a meal, no doubt laughing at their little brother's shouts from the pit.

What sort of men do this?

Along come some desert traders at just the right moment. So Judah comes up with a clever plan that will make some money off their brother's distress:

"What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh" (v. 27).

So the deal was done.
Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver.
The price of a slave.

If that reminds you of someone else sold for 30 pieces of silver, it should. Jesus who was betrayed by Judas was a distant descendant of Judah who sold his own brother.

Only one detail remains.
What will they say to their father when Joseph does not come home with them?
Taking the coat of many colors, they dipped it in goat's blood, and told their father that a wild animal had killed Joseph.

It was a bald-faced lie.
Jacob believed it, of course. What else could he do?

7. He ended up as a slave in Egypt.

Verse 28 tells us what happened next:

"They took Joseph to Egypt."

There he was sold to a man named Potiphar.

For a moment, let's stand back and look at Genesis 37.

What a sordid story!
It's all messed up!

Where is God?
He's not mentioned in Genesis 37.
His name is nowhere to be found.

What should we conclude from this? Does it mean he has abandoned Joseph to his brothers' evil schemes? Not at all!

Though everything seems to be spinning out of control, at every point Joseph is exactly where the Lord wanted him to be:

In the field with his brothers.
Reporting to his father.
Telling his dreams.
Looking for his brothers.
Thrown into a pit.
Sold as a slave.
Marched off to Egypt.

While this chain of events must have seemed dark and chaotic to Joseph, it was all leading exactly where God intended it to go from the beginning.

Two Enduring Lessons

Let's wrap up this message with two enduring lessons.

1. When God chooses a leader, he often allows enemies to arise who will put him to the test.

Where did Joseph's enemies come from? His worst enemies came from the people who should have been closest to him - his own flesh and blood.

What started as hatred . . .
Congealed into envy . . .
Which resulted in conspiracy . . .
Which led to violence . . .
That was compounded by callous indifference . . .
And ended in a shocking betrayal . . .
Which was covered with an evil deception.

Jesus warned that a man's enemies will be those of his own household (Matthew 10:36). Let us then not be surprised when people we thought we could trust turn against us. It doesn't always happen, but when it does, the results are devastating.

2. When God chooses a leader, not even his enemies can stop him from doing God's will.

This is the other side of the story.
Nothing the brothers did could cancel God's choice.

Behind Jacob's favoritism,
And behind those strange dreams,
And behind the brothers' evil schemes,
Stood the God of the universe, working his will.

Not even the treachery of envious brothers could thwart God's plan. Years later Joseph would say, "You meant it for evil against me" (Genesis 50:20), and that was no exaggeration. They first meant to kill him and only spared his life because they saw a way to make money off his disappearance. It was evil through and through.

Didn't God know about the betrayal?
Didn't God know about the slavery?
Didn't God know about Potiphar's wife?
Didn't God know about the false accusations?
Didn't God know about the prison time?

God knew all those things and a lot more besides.
Joseph was God's choice.
Therefore, God led him through the pain of betrayal.
It had to happen that way.

Better or Worse?

At the beginning of Genesis 37, Joseph is tending the flocks with his brothers who already hate him. At the end of Genesis 37, he is a slave in Egypt.

Is he better off or worse off?
It depends on your point of view.
It depends on how big your God is.

That brings us back to the words of Mark Twain:

"There are two great days in a person's life - the day we are born and the day we discover why."

It took a long time but Joseph eventually discovered why he was born.
He's not there yet.

Do you know why you were born? Perhaps the right answer should be,

"I was born to serve the Lord. Everything else is just details."

Seen in that light, the real hero of Joseph's story is not Joseph. It's God. The whole story illustrates how God accomplishes his purposes for us even when we are clueless about the big picture. That comforts me because I rarely feel like I see the "big picture" of what my life is supposed to mean. And what little I do understand happens as I look back and see how the pieces fit together. Even tonight, as I write these words, I have no special knowledge about tomorrow or the day after, much less what the next five years will hold for me. I do believe God has a "blueprint" for my life. I also believe I don't have access to it. I only see that "blueprint" as it unfolds before me a little bit at a time.

So it is for all of us.

Rick and Kay Warren

April 5, 2013 was the worst day of Rick Warren's life. He and his wife Kay sensed that something was not quite right. Their 27-year-old son Matthew had suffered from mental illness all his life. As Rick would later say, he and Kay had done they could do to help their son, including seeking help from the best medical experts and the best therapists they could find. When they went to Matthew's apartment that day, they found it locked. No one came to the door when they knocked. Fearing the worst, they called the police who entered the apartment and confirmed their fears.

Their son whom they loved so much had taken his own life.

Besides being the pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, Rick is also the bestselling author of 'The Purpose Driven Life'. He is probably the best-known pastor in America. Millions of people around the world have been helped by his ministry.

After his son's suicide, Rick stayed out of the pulpit for almost four months, returning on the weekend of July 27-28. Because he is so well-known, the event garnered huge media coverage. Rick and Kay both spoke to the Saddleback congregation, thanking them for their love and support. In trying to explain how his Christian faith helped him through this tragedy, Rick said,

"God knows what it's like to lose a son."

Then he added,

"When you go through a difficult time, you automatically start to try and find an answer. But explanations never comfort. You don't need explanations; you need the presence of God."

When Elizabeth Dias filed her report for Time Magazine, she ended her article with these words:

Then, as the service closed, Rick joined the worship team in singing a favorite evangelical hymn, "Blessed Be Your Name." He lifted his Bible high above his head and declared boldly to the God he serves: "You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name."

Only a man with a big God can talk like that. A small God will never do when tragedy strikes.

We need a big God.
We have one.
The God of Joseph is our God too.

So the hero rises out of the turmoil of a dysfunctional family. Joseph proves you can come from a crazy, mixed-up family and do amazing things if you have a big God.

Stay tuned. Much more to come.

You won't believe what happens when he gets to Egypt.

Copyright © 2013 Keep Believing Ministries, All rights reserved.

Next Week: Story of Joseph - 3: Do You Know Who You Are?

The story of Joseph continues. Stay tuned. ...

The Humility of Mary

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

"Humility," says St. Bernard, "is the foundation and guardian of virtues;" and with reason, for without it no other virtue can exist in a soul. Should she possess all virtues, all will depart when humility is gone. But, on the other hand, as St. Francis de Sales wrote to St. Jane Frances de Chantal, "God so loves humility, that whenever He sees it, He is immediately drawn thither." This beautiful and so necessary virtue was unknown in the world; but the Son of God Himself came on earth to teach it by His Own example, and willed that in that virtue in particular we should endeavor to imitate Him: Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart. Mary, being the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus Christ in the practice of all virtues, was the first also in that of humility, and by it merited to be exalted above all creatures. It was revealed to St. Matilda that the first virtue in which the Blessed Mother particularly exercised herself, from her very childhood, was that of humility.

The first effect of humility of heart is a lowly opinion of ourselves: "Mary had always so humble an opinion of herself, that, as it was revealed to the same St. Matilda, although she saw herself enriched with greater graces than all other creatures, she never preferred herself to anyone." The Abbot Rupert, explaining the passage of the sacred Canticles, Thou hast wounded my heart, my sister, my spouse, ...with one hair of thy neck, [Cant. 4:9] says, that the humble opinion which Mary had of herself was precisely that hair of the Spouse's neck with which she wounded the heart of God." Not indeed that Mary considered herself a sinner: for humility is truth, as St. Teresa remarks: and Mary knew that she had never offended God: nor was it that she did not acknowledge that she had received greater graces from God than all other creatures; for an humble heart always acknowledges the special favors of the Lord, to humble herself the more: but the Divine Mother, by the greater light wherewith she knew the infinite greatness and goodness of God, also knew her own nothingness, and therefore, more than all others, humbled herself, saying with the sacred Spouse: Do not consider that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my color. [Cant. 1:5]

That is, as St. Bernard explains it, "When I approach Him, I find myself black." Yes, says St. Bernardine, for "the Blessed Virgin had always the majesty of God, and her own nothingness, present to her mind." As a beggar, when clothed with a rich garment, which has been bestowed upon her, does not pride herself on it in the presence of the giver, but is rather humbled, being reminded thereby of her own poverty; so also the more Mary saw herself enriched, the more did she humble herself, remembering that all was God's gift; whence she herself told St. Elizabeth of Hungary, that "she might rest assured that she looked upon herself as most vile and unworthy of God's grace." Therefore St. Bernardine says, that "after the Son of God, no creature in the world was so exalted as Mary, because no creature in the world ever humbled itself so much as she did."

Moreover, it is an act of humility to conceal heavenly gifts. Mary wished to conceal from St. Joseph the great favor whereby she had become the Mother of God, although it seemed necessary to make it known to him, if only to remove from the mind of her poor spouse any suspicions as to her virtue, which he might have entertained on seeing her pregnant: or at least the perplexity in which it indeed threw him: for St. Joseph, on the one hand unwilling to doubt Mary's chastity, and on the other ignorant of the mystery, was minded to put her away privately. [Matt. 1:19] This he would have done, had not the Angel revealed to him that his Spouse was pregnant by the operation of the Holy Ghost.

Again, a soul that is truly humble refuses her own praise; and should praises be bestowed on her, she refers them all to God. Behold, Mary is disturbed at hearing herself praised by St. Gabriel; and when St. Elizabeth said, Blessed art thou among women ... and whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? ... blessed art thou that hast believed, [ Luke 1:42]

Mary referred all to God, and answered in that humble Canticle, My soul doth magnify the Lord, [Ibid., 46-47] as if she had said: "Thou dost praise me, Elizabeth; but I praise the Lord, to Whom alone honor is due: thou wonderest that I should come to thee, and I wonder at the divine goodness in which alone my spirit exults :" and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Thou praisest me because I have believed; I praise my God, because He hath been pleased to exalt my nothingness: because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid. Hence Mary said to St. Bridget: "I humbled myself so much, and thereby merited so great a grace, because I thought, and knew, that of myself I possessed nothing. For this same reason I did not desire to be praised; I only desired that praises should be given to the Creator and Giver of all." Wherefore an ancient author, speaking of the humility of Mary, says: "O truly blessed humility, which hath given God to men, opened Heaven, and delivered souls from Hell."

It is also a part of humility to serve others. Mary did not refuse to go and serve Elizabeth for three months. Hence St. Bernard says, "Elizabeth wondered that Mary should have come to visit her; but that which is still more admirable is, that she came not to be ministered to, but to minister."

Those who are humble are retiring, and choose the last places; and therefore Mary, remarks St. Bernard, when her Son was preaching in a house, as it is related by St. Matthew, [12:46] wishing to speak to Him, would not of her own accord enter, but "remained outside, and did not avail herself of her maternal authority to interrupt Him." For the same reason also when she was with the Apostles awaiting the coming of the Holy Ghost, she took the lowest place, as St. Luke relates, All these were persevering with one mind in prayer, with the women, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus. [Acts 1:14] Not that St. Luke was ignorant of the Divine Mother's merits, on account of which he should have named her in the first place, but because she had taken the last place amongst the Apostles and women; and therefore he described them all, as an author remarks, in the order in which they were. Hence St. Bernard says, "Justly has the last become the first, who being the first of all became the last."

In fine, those who are humble, love to be contemned; therefore, we do not read that Mary showed herself in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, when her Son was received by the people with so much honor: but on the other hand, at the death of her Son she did not shrink from appearing on Calvary, through fear of the dishonor which would accrue to her when it was known that she was the Mother of Him Who was condemned to die an infamous death as a criminal. Therefore she said to St. Bridget, "What is more humbling than to be called a fool, to be in want of all things, and to believe one's self the most unworthy of all? Such, O daughter, was my humility; this was my joy; this was all my desire with which I thought how to please my Son alone."

The Venerable Sister Paula of Foligno was given to understand, in an ecstasy, how great was the humility of our Blessed Lady; and giving an account of it to her confessor, she was so filled with astonishment at its greatness, that she could only exclaim, "O, the humility of the Blessed Virgin! O, Father, the humility of the Blessed Virgin, how great was the humility of the Blessed Virgin! In the world there is no such thing as humility, not even in its lowest degree, when you see the humility of Mary." On another occasion our Lord showed St. Bridget two ladies. The one was all pomp and vanity. "She," He said, "is Pride; but the other one whom you see with her head bent down, courteous towards all, having God alone in her mind, and considering herself as no one, is Humility: her name is Mary." Hereby God was pleased to make known to us that the humility of His Blessed Mother was such that she was humility itself.

There can be no doubt, as St. Gregory of Nyssa remarks, that of all virtues there is perhaps none the practice of which is more difficult to our nature, corrupted as it is by sin, than that of humility. But there is no escape; we can never be true children of Mary if we are not humble. "If," says St. Bernard, "you can not imitate the virginity of this humble Virgin, imitate her humility." She detests the proud, and only invites the humble to come to her: Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me. "Mary," says Richard of St. Laurence, "protects us under the mantle of humility." The Mother of God herself explained to St. Bridget what her mantle was, saying, "Come, my daughter, and hide thyself under my mantle; this mantle is my humility." She then added that the consideration of her humility was a good mantle with which we could warm ourselves; but that as a mantle only renders this service to those who wear it, not in thought but in deed, "so also would her humility be of no avail except to those who endeavored to imitate it." She then concluded in these words: "Therefore, my daughter, clothe thyself with this humility."

"O, how dear are humble souls to Mary," says St. Bernard; "this Blessed Virgin recognizes and loves those who love her, and is near to all who call upon her; and especially to those whom she sees like unto herself in chastity and humility." Hence the Saint exhorts all who love Mary to be humble: "Emulate this virtue of Mary, if thou lovest her." Marinus, or Martin d' Alberto, of the Society of Jesus, used to sweep the house, and collect the filth, through love for this Blessed Virgin. The Divine Mother one day appeared to him, as Father Nieremberg relates in his life, and thanking him, as it were, said, "O, how pleasing to me is this humble action done---for my love."

Then, O my queen, I can never be really thy child unless I am humble; but dost thou not see that my sins, after having rendered me ungrateful to my Lord, have also made me proud? O my Mother, do thou supply a remedy. By the merit of thy humility obtain that I may be truly humble, and thus become thy child, Amen.

Source: www.catholictradition.org

Humility
Christ, says St. Thomas Aquinas, recommended to us humility above all things, for thereby is removed the chief impediment to the salvation of men. All the other virtues derive their value from it. Only when humility exists will God bestow his favours. When it fades, those gifts will be withdrawn. The Incarnation, the source of all graces, depended on it. Mary says, in the "Magnificat," that in her God has shown might in his arm, that is, he has exerted in her his very omnipotence. And she proclaims the reason. It was her lowliness which had won his regard and brought him down to terminate the old world and begin the new.

But how could Mary be a model of humility, considering that her treasury of perfections was altogether immeasurable - touching in fact the very borders of infinity, and that she knew it? She was humble because she was likewise aware that she was more perfectly redeemed than any other of the children of men. She owed every gleam of her inconceivable sanctity to the merits of her Son, and that thought was ever vivid in her mind. Her peerless intellect was full of the realisation that as she had received more, so no other creature stood as much in God's debt as she. Hence her attitude of exquisite and graceful humility was effortless and constant.

Studying her, therefore, we can learn that the essence of true humility is the recognition and unaffected acknowledgement of what one really is before God; the understanding that one's worthlessness alone is one's own. Everything else is God's free gift to the soul: his to increase, diminish, or withdraw completely, just as he alone gave it. A sense of one's subjection will show itself in a marked preference for humble and little-sought tasks, in a readiness to bear contempt and rebuffs, and generally in an attitude towards the manifestations of God's Will which will reflect Mary's own declaration: "Here am I, the servant of the Lord." (Lk 1:38)

It follows that our striving for humility must begin in the heart of each individual. Each one must wage the battle with himself, determinedly conquering in his heart the spirit of pride and self. This terrible struggle with the root of evil within one, this constant striving after purity of intention, how exhausting it is. It is the battle of a lifetime. Reliance upon one's own efforts will make it the failure of a lifetime; for self winds itself even into the attack on self. Of what use are his own muscles to one struggling in a quicksand? A firm support is necessary.

Your firm support is Mary. Lean upon her with complete trust. She will not fail you, for she is deeply rooted in that humility which is vital to you. In the faithful practice of the spirit of dependence upon her will be found a supreme, simple, comprehensive way of humility - what St. Louis-Marie de Montfort terms "a little-known secret of grace, enabling us quickly and with but little effort to empty ourselves of self, fill ourselves with God, and become perfect."

Consider how this is so. In turning towards Mary, we must necessarily turn away from self. Mary takes hold of this movement and elevates it; makes of it the supernatural dying to self which fulfils the stern but fruitful law of the Christian life. (Jn 12:24-25) The humble Virgin's heel crushes the serpent of self, with its many heads:-

of self-exaltation; for if Mary, so rich in perfections as to be called by the Church the Mirror of Justice, endowed with unbounded power in the realm of grace, is nevertheless found on her knees - the humblest handmaid of the Lord! - what must be our place and attitude;

of self-seeking; for, having given himself and all his goods, spiritual and temporal, to Mary to use as she thinks fit, we can continue to serve her in the same spirit of complete generosity;

of self-sufficiency; for the habit of leaning on Mary inevitably produces distrust of one's own unaided powers;

of self-conceit; for the sense of partnership with Mary brings realisation of one's own inadequacy. What have we contributed to that partnership but painful weaknesses!

of self-love; for what is there to love! Absorbed in love and admiration of our Queen, we are little inclined to turn from her to contemplate ourselves;

of self-satisfaction; for in this alliance higher standards must prevail. We model ourselves upon Mary and aspire to her perfect purity of intention;

of self-advancement; thinking with Mary's thoughts, we study God alone. There is no room for plans of self or reward;

of self-will; completely submitted to Mary, we distrust the promptings of his own inclinations and in all things listens intently for the whisperings of grace.

"God delights to work on nothing; from that deep foundation it is that he raises the creations of his power. We should be full of zeal for God's glory, and at the same time convinced of our incapacity to promote it. Let us sink into the abyss of our worthlessness; let us take shelter under the deep shade of our lowliness; let us tranquilly wait until the Almighty shall see fit to render our active exertions instrumental to his glory. For this purpose he will make use of means quite opposed to those we might naturally expect. Next to Jesus Christ no one ever contributed to the glory of God in the same degree as the Blessed Virgin Mary, and yet the sole object to which her thoughts deliberately tended was her own annihilation. Her humility seemed to set up an obstacle to the designs of God. But it was, on the contrary, that humility precisely which facilitated the accomplishment of his all-merciful views."

Adapted from the Handbook of the Legion of Mary

Humility - Virtues of Virgin Mary
"Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed" (Luke 1:48).

St. Augustine tell us that "Humility is the foundation of all the virtues; therefore, in a soul where it does not exist there can be no true virtue, but the mere appearance only. In like manner, it is the most proper disposition for all celestial gifts. And, finally, it is so necessary to perfection, that of all the ways to reach it, the first is humility; the second, humility; the third, humility. And if the question were repeated a hundred times, I should always give the same answer."

St. Vincent de Paul perceived that all his advancement and almost all the graces he had received were due to this virtue; and for this reason he inculcated it so much and so greatly desired to introduce it into his congregation. St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who knew this truth well, took no greater pains in acquiring any other virtue.

"Humility is the mother of many virtues. From it spring obedience, holy fear, reverence, patience, modesty, mildness, and peace; for, whoever is humble easily obeys all, fears to offend any, maintains peace with all, shows himself affable to all, is submissive to all, does not offend or displease any, and does not feel the insults which may be inflicted upon him. He lives happy and contented, and in great peace" (St. Thomas of Villanova)

Here we see the reason why St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Vincent de Paul and so many others became remarkable for all the virtues above mentioned. It is because they were remarkable for humility.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal had conceived so much affection for this virtue, that she watched over herself with the greatest attention, in order that she might not allow even the smallest occasion of practicing it to escape. And she once said to St. Francis de Sales, "My dearest Father, I beg you, for the love of God, help me to humble myself!"

St. Teresa of Avila warns us that "Whoever is not very humble, can never draw profit from contemplation, in which any little amount of insufficient humility, though it may seem nothing, works the greatest harm."

One day, the Blessed Virgin prayed to her most holy Son that He would bestow some spiritual gifts upon St. Bridget. But He gave her this reply: "Whoever seeks lofty things ought first to be exercised in the lowly, by the paths of humility." Because the blessed Clara of Montefalco experienced a vain pleasure in some things she had done, the Lord withdrew from her, for fifteen years, His lights and celestial consolations, which she could not regain during all that time, though she begged for them earnestly, with tears, prayers, and the use of the discipline.

"Humility is necessary not only for the acquisition of virtues, but even for salvation. For the gate of Heaven, as Christ Himself testifies, is so narrow that it admits only little ones" (St. Bernard).

The Pharisee was separated by his condition in life from the rest of the people, as this sect formed a kind of religious order, in which they prayed, fasted, and performed many other good works; but he was, notwithstanding, reproved by God. Why, then, was this? For no other reason than that he was wanting in humility; for he felt much satisfaction in his good works, and gloried in them as if they were the result of his own virtue.

Like all good works, the conversion and salvation of souls are really the work of the Holy Ghost. He employs means and instruments. Happy are we if He employ us, if He associate us in this way with Himself. Do you desire to persuade Him to use you? Do you long to attract Him? Well, there is no surer way than by the practice of humility. You must be humble towards God, towards His visible representatives (for thus you prove your humility towards God), towards your fellow workers, and towards the people whom you must serve lovingly, humbly, patiently, as though you were dealing with Christ.

In Paradise there are many Saints who never gave alms on earth: their poverty justified them. There are many Saints who never mortified their bodies by fasting, or wearing hair shirts: their bodily infirmities excused them. There are many Saints too who were not virgins: their vocation was otherwise. But in Paradise there is no Saint who was not humble.

God banished Angels from Heaven for their pride; therefore how can we pretend to enter therein, if we do not keep ourselves in a state of humility? Without humility, says St. Peter Damian (Serm. 45), not even the Virgin Mary herself with her incomparable virginity could have entered into the glory of Christ, and we ought to be convinced of this truth that, though destitute of some of the other virtues, we may yet be saved, but never without humility.

Jesus Christ calls us all into His school to learn, not to work miracles nor to astonish the world by marvelous enterprises, but to be humble of heart. "Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart." (Matt. 11:29) He has not called everyone to be doctors, preachers or priests, nor has He bestowed on all the gift of restoring sight to the blind, healing the sick, raising the dead or casting out devils, but to all He has said: "Learn of Me to be humble of heart," and to all He has given the power to learn humility of Him. Innumerable things are worthy of imitation in the Incarnate Son of God, but He only asks us to imitate His humility. What then? Must we suppose that all the treasures of Divine Wisdom which were in Christ are to be reduced to the virtue of humility? "So it certainly is," answers St. Augustine. Humility contains all things because in this virtue is truth; therefore God must also dwell therein, since He is the truth.

It was for this reason that God pledged Himself to exalt the humble, and continually showers new graces upon them in return for the glory He constantly receives from them. Hence the inspired word again reminds us: "Be humble, and thou shalt obtain every grace from God" (Ecclus. 3:20). This is why Our Lady was so exalted, because she was so humble: "Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me...He hath showed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble" (Luke 1:48-52).

It is in the Incarnation--the first mystery of the Rosary--that we see immense humility poured forth. No greater example of humility can be given than that of the Only Son of God when "the Word was made Flesh." Nothing could be more sublime than the words of St. John's Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word." And no abasement can be deeper than that which follows: "And the Word was made Flesh." Our Lady herself echoes this divine Humility by her humble acceptance of the Will of God: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word" (Luke 1:38). If we could only imitate this humble acceptance of God's daily will for ourselves, instead of responding with impatience, anger, fear, refusal, dejection, sarcasm, cynicism, mockery or such like responses.

Humility is a virtue that belongs essentially to Christ, not only as man, but more especially as God, because with God to be good, holy and merciful is not virtue but nature, and humility is only a virtue. God cannot exalt Himself above what He is, in His most high Being, nor can He increase His vast and infinite greatness; but He can humiliate Himself as in fact He did humiliate and lower Himself. "He humbled Himself, He emptied Himself," (Phil. 2:7-8) revealing Himself to us, through His humility, as the Lord of all virtues, the conqueror of the world, of death, Hell and sin.

Jesus Christ summed up all His Heavenly doctrine in humility, and before teaching it, it was His will to practice it perfectly Himself. As St. Augustine says: "He was unwilling to teach what He Himself was not, He was unwilling to command what He Himself did not practice." (Lib. de sancta virginit. c. xxxvi). But to what purpose did He do all this if not that by this means all His followers should learn humility by practical example? He is our Master, and we are His disciples; but what profit do we derive from His teachings, which are practical and not theoretical?

How shameful it would be for anyone, after studying for many years in a school of art or science, under the teaching of excellent masters, if he were still to remain absolutely ignorant! My shame is great indeed, because I have lived so many years in the school of Jesus Christ, and yet I have learnt nothing of that holy humility which He sought so earnestly to teach me. "Have mercy upon me according to Thy Word. Thou art good, and in Thy goodness teach me Thy justifications. Give me understanding, and I will learn Thy Commandments" (Ps. 118:58, 68, 73).

There is a kind of humility which is of counsel and of perfection such as that which desires and seeks the contempt of others; but there is also a humility which is of necessity and of precept, without which, says Christ, we cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven: "Thou shalt not enter into the kingdom of Heaven" (Matt. xviii, 3). And this consists in not esteeming ourselves and in not wishing to be esteemed by others above what we really are. No one can deny this truth, that humility is essential to all those who wish to be saved. "No one reaches the kingdom of Heaven except by humility," says St. Augustine. (Lib. de Salut. cap. xxxii)

But, I ask, what is, practically, this humility which is so necessary? When we are told that faith and hope are necessary, it is also explained to us what we are to believe and to hope. In like manner, when humility is said to be necessary, in what should its practice consist except in the lowest opinion of ourselves? It is in this moral sense that the humility of the heart has been explained by the fathers of the Church. But can I say with truth that I possess this humility which I recognize as necessary and obligatory? What care or solicitude do I display to acquire it? When a virtue is of precept, so is its practice also, as St. Thomas teaches.

How and when do I practice its acts, acknowledging and confessing my unworthiness before God? The following was the frequent prayer of St. Augustine, "Noscam Te, noscam me--May I know Thee; may I know myself!" and by this prayer he asked for humility, which is nothing else but a true knowledge of God and of oneself. To confess that God is what He is, the Omnipotent, "Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised," (Ps. 47:1] and to declare that we are but nothingness before Him: "My substance is as nothing before Thee" (Ps. 38:6)--this is to be humble. There is no valid excuse for not being humble, because we have always, within and without, abundant reasons for humility: "And thy humiliation shall be in the midst of thee." It is the Holy Ghost who sends us this warning by the mouth of His prophet Micheas (6:14).

When we consider well what we are in body, and what we are in soul, it seems to me most easy to humble oneself, and even most difficult to be proud. To be humble it suffices that I should nourish within myself that right feeling which belongs to every man who is honorable in the eyes of the world, to be content with one's own without unjustly depriving our neighbor of what is his. Therefore, as I have nothing of my own but my own nothingness, it is sufficient for humility that I should be content with this nothingness. But if I am proud, I become like a thief, appropriating to myself that which is not mine but God's. And most assuredly it is a greater sin to rob God of that which belongs to God than to rob man of that which is man's.

To be humble let us listen to the revelation of the Holy Ghost which is infallible. "Behold you are nothing, and your work is of that which hath no being." (Isa. 41:24) But who is really convinced of his own nothingness?

It is for this reason that in holy Scripture it is said: "Every man is a liar" (Ps. 115: 2). For there is no man who from time to time does not entertain some incredible self-esteem, and form some false opinion as to his being, or having, or achieving something more than is possible to his own nothingness. Yet, we should all remember the words Our Lord spoke to Sister Josefa Menendez (Way of Divine Love): "You are nothingness personified!"--which is just another way of saying "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). So let us humble ourselves with St. John the Baptist and say, "He must increase: but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

Source: tojesusthroughmary.org

Jesus Has No Need of Armies to Overcome Evil

by Pope Francis

"Where Jesus is, there is always humility, meekness, and love." Pope Francis said on September 3, 2013. The Pope emphasized the distinction between the "tranquil light" of Jesus that speaks to our hearts, and the light of the world, an "artificial light" that makes us arrogant and proud.

Christian identity, the Pope said, is "an identity of light, not of darkness." Pope Francis began his homily from the words of Saint Paul to the first disciples of Jesus: "You, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness . . . you are children of the light." This Light, he observed, is not well-liked by the world. But Jesus came precisely to save us from sin: "His light saves us from the darkness." On the other hand, he continued, today "one might think that there is the possibility" of having the light "with so many scientific things, and so many of the things of humanity":

"You can know everything, you can have knowledge of all things and this light on things. But the light of Jesus is something else. It is not a light of ignorance, no! It's a light of wisdom and sagacity, but it is something other than the light of the world. The light that the world offers us is an artificial light, strong, perhaps – but that of Jesus is stronger, eh! - strong like a firework, like a flash of photography. Instead, the light of Jesus is a mild light, it is a quiet light, it is a light of peace, it's like the light on Christmas night: without pretence."

It is, the Pope said, a light that "offers and gives peace." The light of Jesus, he continued, "doesn't put on a show. It's a light that comes into the heart." However, he warned, "it's true that many times the devil comes dressed as an angel of light: he likes to imitate Jesus and do good, he speaks to us quietly, as he spoke to Jesus after the fast in the desert." That's why we should ask the Lord for "the wisdom discernment to understand when it is Jesus who gives us the light, and when it is the devil, disguised as an angel of light."

"How many believe they are living in the light and they are in darkness, but they don't realize it? What is the light like that Jesus offers us? The light of Jesus can be known because it is a humble light, it is not a light that imposes itself: it is humble. It's a meek light, with the strength of meekness. It's a light that speaks to the heart, and also a light that offers you the Cross. If we, in our inner light are meek, if we hear the voice of Jesus in the heart and look on the Cross without fear: that is the light of Jesus."

But if, on the other hand, a light comes that "makes you arrogant," he warned, a light that "brings you to look on others from on high" to despise others, "that leads you to pride" – that is not the light of Jesus: it's the light of the devil, disguised as Jesus, as an angel of light." The Pope pointed out the way to distinguish the true light from the false: "Wherever Jesus is, there is always humility, meekness, love, and the Cross." But, he added, sometimes "we find a Jesus that is not humble, that is not meek, that is without love, and without the Cross." So we must follow the true Jesus "without fear," following His light because the light of Jesus "is beautiful and does so much good."

In today's Gospel, he concluded, Jesus cast out the devil and the people are lost from fear in the face of a word that casts out unclean spirits:

"Jesus doesn't need an army to cast out the demons, He has no need of pride, no need of force, of arrogance. ‘What is there about His word? For with authority and power He commands and they come out.' This is a humble word, meek, with so much love; it is a word that accompanies us in the moments of the Cross. Let us ask the Lord to give us today the grace of His Light, and to teach us to distinguish when the light is from Him, and when it is an artificial light, made by the enemy to deceive us."

Source: Radio Vaticana

Poem: Holy Spirit - A Personal Experience

by Dr. Mercy Abraham

[Editor's Note: Dr. Mercy Abraham is familiar to Malankara World readers. A graduate of Kottayam Medical College and practicing medicine at UAE, Mercy has an exceptional talent for writing fine poetry. We had published several of her poems before. Enjoy.]

Dove - Symbolic Representation of Holy Spirit

O Lord, My God, I'm so glad to taste Thy love
To know Thee as I do all my life.
Thy love, Thy kindness, so deep and fathomless
That granted me the Holy Spirit today

Was it a dream that has come true?
In the twilight sublime
I saw that I was in total darkness
With no light to see my path through the dark passages

But I was not alone, there was an old lady
I had to keep her safe, so I prayed
Oh Lord, give me Light and I saw a flame
In my hand, it was glowing, but not burning

With its light, my whole body was lit
Oh the Light was so wonderful, I was so delighted
I could see a book which I wanted to read
Passages, poems flowed before my eyes

Then I opened and strained my eyes
But there was no book, so I woke up and sat alone
With this sweet taste on my lips
Oh God it was so wonderful to know
Thy Love that granted me a forlorn sinner
This prize, not deserving to me.

As I looked back, years before,
I had the same love and I'm so glad
I know its not a dream, it is the Truth and
the Love that has bought me years back

The same today as ever before
The Light burning but not consuming,
lighting up my paths before me, so I will not stumble

For my heart is flooded with Thanksgiving
It is Thy Love, Thy Kindness Lord
That granted me this gift which
I cherish each and every day of my life.

Copyright, 2013 by Mercy Abraham

Health Tip: Boosting Your Immunity

by Dr. Barry Weinberg

"Thou sendest man Thy messenger, the disease, which announces the approach of danger and bids him prepare to overcome them." - Maimonedes

In this Report:

1. The Miracle of Immunity

2. Seven Immunity Boosters

The Miracle of Immunity

The immune system of the body is our primary defense and "home maintenance" system. It keeps our body clean of toxins and resistant to invading organisms. It is responsible for detecting and eliminating possible pathogenic organisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses, as well as detecting, destroying and replacing bad, damaged or defective cells from injury. It is kind of like our police and handy man all rolled into one.

Where is the immune system? If we look at our circulatory system, we can identify it. It consists of the heart, arteries, veins and capillaries all connected in a closed system. The digestive system? - Well, it starts at the mouth and winds its way through our body via the esophagus, stomach, small intestines, large intestines and ends you know where. Nervous System…Skeletal System…Lymph System…they can all be seen and identified. But where is the immune system?

IT IS IN EVERY CELL OF OUR BODY. Whereas we do have unique blood cells called Lymphocytes, Basophils, Eosinophils, etc. which we identify as components of Immunity…they do not exist in an individuated system. They roam our body searching and eliminating those organisms and toxins which may have the potential of causing harm. Although these specialized cells are "designed" to accomplish these tasks, every cell, organ, tissue of the body also has its innate ability to protect itself. In fact, the largest organ of immunity is our SKIN. It is our primary defense. Our breath is also a vital component of our immune system, expelling toxins and alien critters with every exhalation. The specialized white blood cells actually only come into play if our primary defenses are overwhelmed.

We have come to believe that when the bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins enter our body, we get sick. In fact this is a MYTH. If tomorrow you visited a lab, you would find that your body is full of these invaders. Yet, you are not sick because your immune system keeps them in check. It is only when our immune system becomes compromised, do these invaders cause havoc.

SO…to dispel this myth: First, when you are sick, your immunity falters and then the bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins have the opportunity to cause disease.

So, in regards to "germs"… have no fear. As long as your immune system is strong, you have nothing to worry about. Of the men, women and children exposed to germs, only a handful actually manifest the disease. The others' immune systems are able to protect them.

So I repeat: As long as your immune system is strong, there is NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT.

Next, I wish to share with you seven strategies to super-power your immune system.

Seven Immunity Boosters

1) "Don't Worry, Be Happy"

Thanks to the research of Candice Pert (Discoverer of Neuropeptides and the author of the book Molecules of Emotion) and other brilliant scientists and doctors, we now know that our emotions and thoughts directly effect our immune system. In fact, a new science has emerged called PsychoNeuroImmunology – The science of the relationship between Thoughts and Emotions, Our Nervous System and Our Immune System. In fact, in the advanced sciences, they see no distinction between these systems – they are in fact, all one.

A recent study performed at the University of Ohio has demonstrated that

1 Positive Thoughts increase T-Cell counts (a powerful part of our immune system) and negative thoughts decrease T-Cell counts… and …

2 Experiences of Love increase immune function.

So close your eyes and visualize your body and immune system as strong as can be. See your self like Superman standing upon your own Fortress of Solitude with your cape blowing behind you…your chin up in the air with confidence and self-esteem. Remind yourself everyday of the beauty that still exists in our world…Rainbows…Full Moons…Sunrises…Sunsets….A Baby's Smile…Grandma's Soup… Jumping Dolphins… Roaring Lions… Prancing Horses… Humans singing together under candle light. There is so much to love and so much to appreciate. Remind yourself of these things everyday.

If you would like some more specific exercises, Chapter 8 "Think and Grow Healthy" in my book A Clear Path to Healing has a 7 step process for using your mind to create anything you desire…including a strong immune system.

Step One in boosting your immune system is this:

Don't Worry…Be Happy!

2) Healthy Spine Free of Tension and Interference

Whereas the immune system is the defense and maintenance system of the body…the nervous system is the orchestrator of that system. The brain, spinal cord and nerves control everything in the body and mind. All body function and healing…perception and response…thoughts and feeling…are all controlled and organized by the nervous system.

Stresses in our life – Physical, Emotional, Chemical and Cultural – cause tension to build up in our nervous system and its surrounding structures (Spinal Column, Muscles, Tendons, etc.). Especially when those stress are overwhelming. This tension interferes with body function and healing – especially Immune Function.

The best method I know of to keep your spine free of tension and interference is Chiropractic – specifically Network Spinal Analysis or NSA.

NSA is a system of Wellness Care that uses very gentle touches on specific areas of the spine called "Spinal Gateways" to help identify areas of tension and entrain the body to self-regulate these areas of tension and heal. People under Network Care report that they are able to handle stress better, enjoy life more and are able to make healthier choice in their life.

So, step 2 in boosting your immune system is to keep your spine free of tension, utilizing Chiropractic, specifically Network Spinal Analysis, as an effective tool.

3) EAT HEALTHY

Don't allow those free radicals to get into your body begin with. Also, provide your body with the phytochemicals in plants and fruits which boost a strong immune system. I outline a healthy system of eating in my book, A Clear Path to Healing, which will share with you now.

a. Drink at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces of Filtered water every day.

b. Read food labels and don't eat anything which has ingredients that do not sound like food. (i.e. monosodium glutamate, blue #6, anything bleached, etc.)

c. Eat food in the following ratio: 75% or more Alkaline Foods – 25% or less Acid Foods. Alkaline foods are fruits and veggies…Acid is everything else. (Exceptions: Almonds, Millet and Salmon tend toward Alkaline…pomegranates are Acid fruits)

d. Specific foods high in phytochemicals:

Garlic
Soy
Citrus Fruits
Peppers
Red Grapes
Green Tea
Leafy Greens
Tomatoes
Flaxseed
Walnuts
Brazil Nuts
Cabbage
Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts

So, step 3 in boosting your immune system is to EAT HEALTHY!

4) ANTIOXIDANTS AND IMMUNITY STIMULANTS

Antioxidants are nutrients which eliminate from the body detrimental chemicals called Free Radicals. Free Radicals are toxins which destroy human cells and cause the immune system to work extra hard. By supplementing your diet with antioxidants, you will help clean your body of Free Radicals and give your immune system a break to focus on other things. Also, supplement your diet with nutrients which build a healthy immune systems

The Antioxidants and Immunostimulants are:

Vitamin C
Vitamin E
Vitamin A
Zinc
Selenium
CoQ10

Also, Mushrooms have demonstrated themselves to be powerful immune boosters.

What? Mushrooms?!?!? That's right. Mushrooms are powerful immune system boosters that have been used in the Orient and in the South American jungles for thousands of years. I am not talking about your run-of-the-mill throw in the salad mushrooms. I am speaking of specific varieties of mushrooms found only in tropical rainforests and other remote parts of the world. Such varieties as Shiitake, Maitake, oyster, enoki, reishi, astragalus and many others. These mushrooms contain powerful immune system builders called alpha and beta glucans which are not naturally produced by our bodies. They are only found in plant and animal sources.

I know of a product called Bio-Directed Immunity. It is a special blend of 20 varieties of Immune Boosting mushrooms, organically grown under precise laboratory conditions. If you are interested in getting more information about this product and purchasing it for yourself and your family, email our Wellness Consultant at anja@placeforhealing.com

Step 4 in boosting your immune system is supplementing your diet with ANTIOXIDANTS and MUSHROOMS

5) CLEAN ENVIRONMENT

The less work your immune system has to do, the more energy and resources it has to keep you healthy. Why bog it down with unnecessary toxins from your environment. Using an effective air and water filter actually nourishes your body's immunity allowing it to rest, rather than putting it to work. If you are in a very effective, affordable air or water, contact our wellness consultant, Anja at anja@placeforhealing.com

Step 5 in boosting your immune system is cleansing your air and water with an effective filter..

6) PROBIOTICS

There are actually bacteria in our body that supports our health and our immune systems. These are called Probiotics ( as opposed to Antibiotics which destroy life and inhibit our immune system). These probiotic organisms live in our digestive system and have such names as Lactobacillus acidophilis and Bifidobacterium bifidum. These probiotic, immunity-boosting bacteria are readily available through a food which is available in any supermarket – YOGURT! If you are lactose-intolerant or just do not like yogurt, probiotic supplements are available at any health-food store.

Step 6 to boost your immune system is EAT YOGURT (or take a probiotic supplement.)

7) ADEQUATE EXERCISE AND PROPER REST

The last thing I'd like to discuss are two things which may seem diametrically opposed but they go hand-in-hand: ADEQUATE EXERCISE and PROPER REST. I go into these in very specific detail in A Clear Path to Healing, but briefly you want to get good aerobic exercise at least 5 times a week. This can be a walk, a swim, a run. Something to get the blood flowing in your veins and your breath deepened. Deep breathing is a powerful immune booster.

And after exercising make sure you get proper rest. There are many strategies to improve sleep including proper posture, firm supportive mattress, meditation and the use of magnetic and far-infrared technologies. To learn more, pick up my book A Clear Path to Healing or email our Wellness Consultant, Anja at anja@placeforhealing.com

So, step 7 to boost your immune system is Adequate Exercise and Proper Rest

Let's Summarize

To Boost Your Immune System:

1) Don't Worry…Be Happy
2) Keep Your Spine Free of Tension
3) Eat Healthy
4) Take Antioxidants and Immunity Stimulants
5) Eat YOGURT!
6) Filter your air and Water
7) Get Adequate Exercise and Proper Rest

I hope you all take action on this information, so that you are strong and fearless against this little wimp – Mr. Germ

About The Author:

Dr. Barry Weinberg is a Chiropractor and published author of two books: 'A Clear Path to Healing' and 'To Face a Dragon'. He is the owner and chief doctor A Place for Healing since 1994 and is now operating out of the Point Pleasant Wellness Spa in Wilton Manors, Florida to bring great awareness and healing to the public through health education, Network Spinal Analysis and other wellness solutions. 

Family Special: Healing After Abuse

For Victims of Abuse, Forgiveness is the Foundation of Healing

Nurse Shares Steps for Releasing Pain, Forgiving Yourself and Others

From child abuse and domestic violence to human sex trafficking and atrocities against civilians in war-torn countries, our world creates new victims daily.

Broken bones and bruises heal, but for many victims, the emotional damage is lifelong and life altering, says Amrita Maat, a nurse, child abuse survivor, and author of the inspirational new book, "Wearing a Mask Called Normal," www.maskcallednormal.com.

"Experiencing abuse can affect how you feel about yourself and how you respond to other people," Maat says. "These effects might be easy to see if you're observing them in someone else, but they can be nearly impossible to recognize in yourself without help."

The emotional and physical abuse that Maat grew up with set the stage for her to become a perpetual victim as an adult, she says. The choices she made and her interactions with others were often unwittingly self-destructive.

"Lifestyle changes that involve healthy choices include eliminating dysfunctional patterns, such as manipulation and abusive behavior – the things children of abusive parents learn from their role models," she says. "A healthy lifestyle comes first through recognizing unhealthy behaviors and then laying the groundwork for positive change."

For Maat, that groundwork begins with forgiveness.

"You have to forgive," she says. "You have to forgive yourself and you have to forgive those who've hurt you. When you're a victim, you're often angry – because you have every right to be angry, right? But anger, focusing on blame and thinking of yourself as a victim only perpetuates the dysfunction and the pain it brings."

So, how does one begin to forgive oneself and others? Maat shares the steps she put together, which helped her learn how to identify what would move her forward on her healing path. She started by creating a list of the people and circumstances she needed to forgive and systematically working through the process:

1. Identify the people who have caused you pain and why you feel that pain. This validates your pain; it was real and deserves to be acknowledged.

2. Identify the pain you feel from others and consciously release it to the universe in a personal ritual that has meaning for you. You might write it down on a piece of paper and burn it. Or speak the words out loud and blow them away.

3. Allow yourself to forgive those who have caused you pain as a means to your physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

4. Identify the people you have caused pain and recognize why you caused them pain. It's important to acknowledge that you, too, are capable of causing pain in order to forgive yourself and those you've hurt.

5. Identify the pain you have caused others with your actions.

6. Allow yourself forgiveness for the pain you have caused others as a means to your physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

While forgiving others for hurt caused intentionally is difficult, Maat says the hardest is forgiving yourself for pain you caused. But this is vital; in order to forgive others and to open yourself to positive energy, you must forgive yourself.

"From every hurtful moment, I learned something, and part of my process is to acknowledge each lesson and to be grateful for it," Maat says. "Forgiveness was possible when I released the hurt because it no longer served a purpose."

About Amrita Maat

Amrita Maat is a nurse who reached a turning point in her life when she was injured while trying to avoid the advances of a physician who had sexually harassed her for years. For the first time, she stood up to an abuser by taking the man to court. But she had waited too long under the statutes, so she did not get her day of justice. Because of the nature of her memoir, Amrita Maat is a pseudonym.

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