Friday, August 10, 2012

The King and the Pauper

“Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him…” (Mat 14:31).

It is common to our nature to aspire. We want to be somebody, somebody important. We want stature, desiring that people look up to us. We sometimes feel that it is then that we can help others. We no longer teach our sons morals, how to be good husbands and fathers; we want them to be somebody. We no longer teach our daughters how to be good wives and mothers; we encourage them to “be somebody,” as if being a wife and mother is “low-life.” We are more concerned about who and what they will become in this lifetime.

Jesus was reared a carpenter’s son. The people desired to make him a king, but He would not be the king they desired Him to be. Nevertheless, He was King. Peter was a fisherman, a nobody. Matthew was a tax collector, a nobody. Jesus, the King, reached down and caught the pauper, who was sinking into the sea (Magnificat, August 2012, pg 99). The sea symbolizes this life and the instability of the visible world; the storm that was going on points to every kind of trial or difficulty that oppresses human beings.1 Although Peter was a nobody, no matter that he had little faith, no matter that he was hardhearted, c.f. Mark 6:52, the King reached down to save them.

Our Lord is like a strong man traveling with companions. When they have to climb higher than they can reach, He climbs up and then reaches down to help the others up. If they have to cross over places to far for them to jump, He helps them across. Peter, regardless of the fact that he could swim, called out to Jesus to save him. We must call out also.

We read holy Scripture, and we find nothing that would lead us to even think that Jesus elevated Himself above the lowest person. He always reaches down to “lift up” others. St. Paul tells us, “Let nothing be done through contention, neither by vain glory; but in humility, let each esteem others better than themselves; each one not considering the things that are his own, but those that are other men's; For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Php 2:3-5 DRB).

We are not Jesus Christ, but we can do as St. Paul tells us. Husbands can esteem their wives as higher than themselves, thinking of their wives before themselves. Wives can esteem their husbands as higher than themselves, thinking of their husbands before themselves. This creates equality out of love. We, often, are afraid to do that for we fear the other will not reciprocate in kind and we lose out. Jesus knew we would reciprocate in kind, yet He reached down to us regardless.

Jesus reaches down to us in the Sacrament of Baptism to save us from drowning in the “sea.” This is not enough for Him: He reaches down in the Sacrament of Confirmation to give us the Holy Spirit that we might be strengthened and encouraged. He reaches down with the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Marriage that we may more express His love for mankind and that we may express our love for our neighbor, loving husband/wife, children, and others as ourselves. Realizing that we fall often into temptation, He reaches down in the Sacrament of Penance in order that He may absolve us of our sins. The apex of it all, He gives us Himself in the Sacrament of the Altar, the Eucharist—body, blood, soul, and divinity. He gives us Himself that we may continually grow more like He, more in holiness. Then He gives us the Sacrament of the Sick that we do not lose faith when we are ready to depart this life. He has given us everything that we need, e.g. the Catholic Church and the Sacraments. But we do not receive the Sacraments that we may live unto ourselves; we receive the Sacraments that we may live for others, reaching down to lift them up. --TT