How humble was Jesus? Well, think about this: Jesus is God and we must humble ourselves before him, and yet he humbles himself before us! So says today's reading from Philippians. And the Gospel reading tells us that Jesus came down from heaven. That's humility! Would you or I leave the comforts of heavenly perfection to enter into the bad, difficult world to mingle with bad, difficult people?
What if the Second Coming of Christ were to happen today, and Jesus appears in front of you and asks you to choose between going to heaven now or staying on earth a while longer to help unbelievers find salvation before it's too late? Would you say yes? I hope I never get asked that question!
We have a natural longing for heaven. We were created to live there with God for all eternity. It's our true home, and instinctively we know it. That's why we complain when we experience something unheavenly here on earth. We expect perfection even though perfection is only possible in heaven. We cry, "God, I'm tired of this trial! When are You going to make it end?" (That's what got the Israelites into trouble in today's first reading.)
Have you ever felt like saying, "God, You obviously don't understand how bad this problem is for me. Can't you see I'm suffering here? Oh God, when are you going to make that person change so that I can enjoy my life better?"
Complaining is an indication that we've let our heavenly expectations push aside our earthly need to trust God.
Worse, when we complain to others, we're spreading our distrust. To cure this, we should take our complaints directly to God. No one else. (The only exception is a counselor or friend who can help us become more holy and healed.) We need to let our complaints disappear into God's compassionate heart. Then our frustration dissipates. It's absolutely amazing! Try it! (Let me tell you how often I have had to do it. Oops, I'll stop right here and let my complaint melt into God. He's wrapped me in his warm and friendly hug.)
"Do not forget the works of the Lord," the responsorial Psalm reminds us. Complaints mean that we've forgotten how much God is already blessing us. At such times, it's pride, not humility, that's controlling our attitudes.
Did Jesus ever complain? He got upset sometimes, but he never complained, not even when they beat him and nailed him to the cross. Instead, he prayed for those who were the cause of his troubles: "Father, forgive them, because they don't know what they're doing."
Because of this absolute love, we know without a doubt that "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world." Lord, help us to humbly stop complaining and condemning, so that we can be holy like Jesus. Amen!