There was a disciple, or someone from the crowd, who, having seen the wonders that the Lord performed, wished to follow him. The Lord saw a proud man not seeking the path of lowliness but the pride of power, and said to him, “Foxes have lairs, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Mt 8:20). Foxes have lairs in you; the birds of the air have nests in you. Foxes are deceit; the birds of the air are pride; just as the birds seek to fly high, so do the proud, and as foxes have cunning holes, so are those seeking to take advantage. What does the Lord reply? You can have pride and deceit dwelling in you, and then Christ has nowhere to dwell in you, nowhere to lay his head. Laying down his head is the lowliness of Christ. Unless he laid down his head, you would not have been justified. The disciples, desiring such things and wishing to gain a seat in the kingdom before they had taken the path of lowliness, when this was suggested by their mother, “Say that one may sit at your right hand and the other at your left.” They were looking for power, but it’s by the suffering of humility that one comes to power in the kingdom. The Lord says: “Can you drink the cup which I am to drink? (Mt 20:21-22) Why are you thinking of heights in the kingdom and not imitating my lowliness? (EnPs 90[91]/2, 7; PL 37, 1165-1166)

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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