7—Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings. (HUMILITY – Not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive; a clear and concise understanding of what we are, followed by a sincere desire to become what we can be)
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 18: 1-5
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a child, whom he put among them, 3 and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
The Word of God for the People of God. Thanks be to God.
A reading from Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (Richard Rohr, 2011, Franciscan Media, p. 60, 61, 63)
…Why is it good to ask, and what is really happening in prayers of petition or intercession? Are we needed to talk God into things? Why does Jesus both tell us to ask and then say, “Your Father already knows what you need, so do not babble on like the pagans do” (Matthew 6:7)?…
We ask not to change God but to change ourselves. We pray to form a living relationship, not to get things done. Prayer is a symbiotic relationship with life and with God, a synergy which creates a result larger than the exchange itself…
The death of any relationship with anybody is to have a sense of entitlement. Any nothing that “I deserve,” “I am owed,” “I have a right to,” “I am higher than you” absolutely undermines any notion of faith, hope, or love between the involved parties…
There are ways of living and relating that are honest and sustainable and fair, and there are utterly dishonest ways of living and relating to life. This is our real, de facto, and operative “truth,” no matter whose theories or theologies we believe. Our life situation and our style of relating to others is “the truth” that we actually take with us to the grave. It is who we are, more than our theories about this or that.
So Step 7 says that we must “humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.” Don’t dare go after your faults yourselves or you will go after the wrong thing, or more commonly a clever substitute for the real things. “If you try to pull out the weeds, you might pull out the wheat along with it,” as Jesus says (Mathew 13:29).
Instead you have to let God (1) reveal your real faults to you (usually by failing and falling many times!), and then (20 allow God to remove those faults from his [sic] side and in God’s way. If you go after them with an angry stick, you will soon be left with just an angry stick—and the same faults at a deeper level of disguise and denial…
A reading from Narcotics Anonymous (6th edition, Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc. location 870)
…Humility is the result of getting honest with ourselves. We have practiced being honest since Step One. We accepted our addiction and powerlessness. We found a strength beyond ourselves and learned to rely on it. We examined our lives and discovered who we really are. To be truly humble is to accept and honestly try to be ourselves. None of us is perfectly good or perfectly bad. We are people who have assets and liabilities. Most importantly, we are human. …
The Seventh Step is an action step, and it is time to ask God for help and relief. We have to understand that our way of thinking is not the only way; other people can give us direction. When someone points out a shortcoming, our first reaction may be defensive. We must realize that we are not perfect. There will always be room for growth. If we truly want to be free, we will take a good look at input from fellow addicts. If the shortcomings we discover are real, and we have a chance to be rid of them, we will surely experience a sense of well-being.
HOMILY Pastor Melissa Lemons
All Saints Sunday, November 4, 2018 Recovery Worship, Matthew 18: 1-5 for step 7
Greetings of grace and peace to you in the name of Christ.
So, this gospel passage begins, “At that time” and you’re probably wondering what time that was. Jesus and the disciples have come to Capernum and were approached by tax collectors who asked if Jesus paid the temple tax. Jesus asked a question that suggested strangers, not God’s children should pay the tax, but he arranged to pay it anyway. Step 7 is about humility and one thing we say in the secular world is that two things are certain: death and taxes. Those things touch us all and equalize us in some sense.
I also think that what Jesus says after this tax collection scene also serves to equalize us. Many adults do not like to be compared to children. I certainly don’t like to be thought of as childish or immature. At the same time, I want people to recognize me as an individual with unique needs and abilities. My uniqueness does not make me better or worse than anyone else.
In Jesus time children were thought of as “less than.” By placing a child in the middle of the disciples and honoring that child as an example, Jesus made it clear that no one is “less than” anyone else in God’s eyes and that the more we treat one another with respect and dignity regardless of age or social status the closer we will get to understanding how God sees us.
When working with adults who were abused or neglected as children I often spend time asking the person to imagine what they wished had happened for them instead. What kind of parents do they think would have made for a healthy childhood? Sometimes we don’t know and that’s ok. Other times we are clear what we wanted because we saw it given to others. In any case, I try to help clients or congregants imagine their needs now and to treat themselves in the way the greatest parent of all would treat them.
With God as the image of greatest parent we can be honest about who we are, where we fall short, and what we need to feel healthy and whole. True love of one’s self simply means recognizing that we are children of God and deserving of love, justice, and dignity; that we’re not worth more or less than anyone else.
Seeing ourselves and others as God sees us is a good step towards humility, self-acceptance, and love of our neighbors and enemies. Humility recognizes our worth and the need for community and care. We are not asked to develop alone or live alone or be completely self-sufficient. God is with us and in a loving, non-judgmental way. Because we are loved it is safe to open our hearts to our growing areas and to ask God in to help us change and develop.
Thanks be to God.