From today’s Old Testament reading, from the prophet Zephaniah: ‘For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord, those who are left in Israel; they shall do no wrong and utter no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall pasture and lie down, and none shall make them afraid’.
This passage refers to the ‘anawim’, the poor ones of God, the faithful remnant. Pope St John Paul II said of them: ‘“… the poor and lowly ones”. The expression turns up often in the Psalter. It indicates not just the oppressed, the miserable, the persecuted for justice, but also those who, with fidelity to the moral teaching of the Alliance with God, are marginalised by those who prefer to use violence, riches and power. In this light one understands that the category of the “poor” is not just a social category but a spiritual choice. It is what the famous first Beatitude means: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”. The prophet Zephaniah spoke to the anawim as special persons: “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of wrath of the Lord”’.
Our Lady herself belonged to this poor and humble people, and her Magnificat is a fine expression of their qualities. Then, too, her Son: ‘Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross’.
May we learn this true humility – for humility is truth – and draw very close to the Lord in this. May God bless you this day.