But as one traces the flow of the Jordan River, one will find the lowest body of water in the whole world which is the Dead Sea where one could float without effort because of its great salt content. Naturally, the Jordan River is teeming with life as fish makes it a natural habitat while domesticated and wild beasts flock to drink from it. Both sides of the river could accommodate lush vegetation which are useful for both men and beasts. But the Dead Sea is the exact opposite with only some brine microbes able to survive as its great salt solute.
Symbolically, therefore, Jordan River where the Messiah started His life-giving ministry is the source of life. On the other hand, the Dead Sea where some scholars believe the accursed five cities; Sodom and Gomorrha and suburbs were located. This is not however, conclusive yet as there are other archeological findings to the contrary. Yet, since no vegetation and animal life can subsist there, it is therefore, a dead place.
Now, the mystical message here, is on humility. The humility of the Christ and His foster father St. Joseph are life-giving. They foster virtues from where the true foundations of faith spring. Christ chose to be born in a cave turned into a stable rather an inn’s room or even a palace’s chamber worth His nobility. St. Joseph humbly accepted to take care of the holy Mother and Child by being just a tekton who is usually cheated by his clients. Even Mary, the Mother of God, simply took care of the Child Jesus by having an unassuming position in every aspect of the Messiah’s life. Mary’s acceptance of her giving birth to Him in so impoverished a place, actually duped the dragon into believing that she was not to give birth to the Messiah even if she is full of holiness. In Satan’s mind, it was inconceivable for God to have His only-begotten Son to be born in such a poor setting. Instead, the Serpent alternately-monitored the mansions and palaces where the noble women of repute were to give birth, ready to devour the Child as soon as He was born. Steep pride, truly is always humbled by God’s wisdom.
During the epiphany, take note that it was the poor shepherds who were first to see Jesus as newborn child. The angelic choir from heaven even sang in order to guide them to the Immanuel. But as to the magi, who were learned and wealthy, it was only the star which guided them and it took them a long time before they were able to see the Godchild.
But humility which is only put up or insincere is not life-giving nor would engender anything good at all. For instance, Herod’s request that the magi would pass him on the way home so that he can also worship the Immanuel was just a ruse so that he could murder the rival to his rule. Their evasion of this cruel usurper made him murder the holy innocents. His guise that he would also worship him exceeds true humility and is therefore anchored in malicious pride.
Consider, too, the Iscariotal father-and-son pair of Simon, the Leper and Judas who both criticized Mary, the sister of Martha for breaking a precious bottle of perfume on Jesus’ feet when it could command a high price in the market. In false humility, they were saying that the money that could have been made if the perfume was just sold could feed many hungry people. And yet, the Christ discerning jealousy and envy in them instead allowed the Magdalene to continue with the ritual which He said is for His funeral.
It behooves me therefore, to remind our brothers and sisters to watch against false humility which far exceeds the standards of real humility which is discreet and unassuming. For instance, in the exercise of generosity, one should refrain from specifying what he could be capable of, in comparison with those who can afford less, and then when the actual time comes and it was most needed, the same would not do anything about it. On ride on the merits of those who have already done what is most pleasing for them and God. Or in the exercise of prudence, we become sanctimonious and aggressively accuse out brethren right way of wrongdoing when in fact, the malice only exists in our minds. It is not good for us to be prude and rude, just because one thing does not apply in our life situation. The practice of universal justice is to consider brethren as they are as the Holy Spirit calls them. We could not claim to be better than the Holy Spirit in the discernment of things. Let us be genuinely happy when we see good things happening to our brethren and refrain from gloating over their losses. But if our practice of justice made us use the prism of the criteria of social justice theory, we are only woke in our practice and false in our humility. The Messiah never distinguished between Pharisees nor Sadducees, Jews and Samaritans, Roman or Zealot because His ministry included gentiles, and even thieves, tax-collectors and prostitutes.
So, stop working for exclusivity and do away with competitiveness so that others wouldn’t be mistaken about the brotherhood’s elitism. Rather, be inclusive both in your prayers and actions so that each and every one will recognize the fact that universal justice operates within us and we deserve to be called true Christians and Catholics.
Ricardo B. de los Santos