The gospel tells us many things about Jesus. One thing is that Jesus is gentle. Let me begin with a story. The story is about the wind and the sun. They argued about who was more powerful; they agreed to have a contest. They saw a man walking down a road alone on a cold day. The sun and the wind agreed,” Whoever makes this man take off his coat first, he’s the stronger; he’s the winner.” The wind went first. The wind began to blow stronger and stronger, and the man wrapped the coat more strongly around himself. And eventually the wind got tired, gave up and stopped. Then the sun began to shine down gently on the man, warming him slowly; then the man opened up his coat. The sun continued warming the man and the man took off his coat. The sun won the contest. The point of the story is, gentleness accomplishes much more than force.
Jesus in today’s Gospel says, “Learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart.” (To see the words of the Gospel, click here.) Something I like to say all the time: Our goal, your goal, my goal in the spiritual life should be to become more like Jesus. And here we have Jesus giving us an example, praying, thanking God. Jesus speaks to God His Father, like a Son, someone close to his Father in heaven.
Now you and I are also daughters of God, sons of God.
Your experience of your human father? I don’t know. Some experiences may be positive, some may be negative; our human fathers are human, with good points and bad points. In your memory of your father, you have some negative memories and some positive memories. Look at the positive memories of your father; know that God is your heavenly Father, and He is so much better than your human father. He is the Heavenly Father. He has an enormous heart full of love, love he wants to pour out on you, pour out on me. What do you do? How do you respond? You show gratitude like Jesus. You say, “I thank you, God my Father; Your heart is so full of mercy, kindness, compassion; you want to pour it out on us, whether we deserve it or not. Thank you so much.”
This is true about God our Father; it is what we see in Jesus. Jesus is the perfect image of God, the perfect picture of God. To know who God is, we need to look at his picture, look at his image, and that means we look at Jesus. Jesus, the human person, shows us what God is like.
So what does Jesus do? He connects with people, not important people, not famous people, people like you and like me. If Jesus is the picture of God, then God is humble. He is willing to let his Son, the Son of God, come and share our human life, suffer in our human life. So you and I need to be humble, humble before God, humble before other people. This does not mean we lie and say, “I’m a bad person, I’m awful, I’m terrible.” No, because you’re very good. Very, very good! To be humble means to be honest. You are very good but not the center of the world God the Father and Jesus his Son are the center.
I must become more like Jesus. How? Look at Jesus, study, pray, use your imagination. Pray that you will come to know Jesus more and more and do what Jesus did.
You can read the Bible; the Gospels, the stories of Jesus, enter into the story. See Jesus, see the different people in the story. Who is he talking with? Look at Jesus. What is he doing? How is he doing it? What is he saying? What is his attitude? What is the people’s reaction to Jesus? Learn who Jesus is. Look at Jesus fully. Know him more and more. The more we know Jesus, the more we will become like him.
Let me tell you a story. I’ve told you the story many times before, but I like it very much. I think it sums up what our spiritual life should be.
Once there was a prince; he was very handsome, talented, intelligent. His father, the king, knew he would become a very good king in the future. But there was one problem. He was crippled; his back was bent. People would look at him and insult him. They would not respect him and listen to him. So the king decided to do something to help his son so that other people could see the beauty and the power and the greatness in his son. The king called in the most skilled maker of statues and told the man to make a statue of his son, but not as he was now, crippled and bent, but standing tall, straight, strong. So the man made the statue, a beautiful statue; the statue showed the prince tall and strong. And the king told his son, the prince, “Now, I want you every day to go spend an hour looking at that statue.” The prince didn’t really understand why. But he obeyed his father. He went and sat before the statue every day for an hour and looked at it.
And then the prince began to feel a tingling all over his body. Why? What was happening? As he stared at the statue and looked at it, he was becoming more and more like that statue. After many months his back became straighter; he stood taller. And the full beauty and strength of the prince became clear. He became the statue, the living copy of that statue. He became the perfect human image of the statue.
I would like to suggest that that must be our attitude too. We look at the perfect image of the person we want to become. Who is that? It is Jesus. As we look at him, see him more fully, we will begin slowly to change ourselves; we will take on the attitudes of Christ, His goodness, his kindness, his patience, his willingness to forgive; we will become more and more like Jesus. When we know Jesus more we will become like Him gentle and humble of heart, a source of rest for others, strength for others, consolation for others, a source of peace for other people. Why? Because we will become more and more like Jesus himself.