Respect Children. In fact, fear children. Jesus is saying to us, if you cannot respect the innocence and purity of children, at least, consider the fact that no child is without his or her angels sent by God to guard and guide them. Yes, there are invisible spirits around every child working all round the clock for their good. Be good to children and you will be blessed by their angels. If you want to experience the power of children, gather little children together, go down on your knees and ask them to pray for you.

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Jesus was impressed not just with her faith (her unwillingness to give up), He was impressed by her deep-seated humility. Jesus worked this miracle for her to teach us the need to be persistent with our prayers and to always apply the virtue of humility in our relations with others. Remember, the hand that begs is longer. Learn to be humble. Don’t interpret everything as an insult; you never can tell if the so-called insult is just a test. No matter how highly placed you think we are, there would always be someone who has something that you lack. Never look down on anyone. If suffering doesn’t teach you humility, nothing else can.

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When Jesus says we should carry his yoke, he speaks figuratively referring to those things we must do as his followers. Like a farmer ties a yoke on oxen in order to use them to work on the farm, Jesus wants us to carry His Yoke; be controlled by his teaching; to work in promoting God’s kingdom. Moreover, Jesus went further to add that this yoke is easy and the burden (sacrifices, pains, commitments) that come with carrying the yoke is very light.

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The Prophet Isaiah asks in our first reading today, “can the ax exult itself over the one who uses it?” or “will the saw consider itself greater than the man who cuts with it?” Indeed, pride goes before a fall. We are nothing but mere instruments in the hands of God. Without humility, we cannot understand the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

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As soon as Mary heard, she immediately put herself in Elizabeth’s shoes, she knew the old woman needed help and she ran as fast as she could to volunteer. She forgot herself, she didn’t consider that she had just become the Mother of God and was carrying the King of Kings in her womb, she ran to become a servant, a slave, an errand girl to Elizabeth. Mary was with Elizabeth for three months meaning she remained till Elizabeth delivered her baby before returning back home. If not for the fact that Mary herself was also pregnant, I am sure she would have stayed longer. Let us not be bothered with our own problems that we become blind and deaf to the cries of people around us. Learn to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Learn from Mary to humble yourself and come to the aid of people. Begin to visit people today.

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Doing God’s work without a sense of humility, that is, without an awareness that you are just an instrument in God’s toolbox is dangerous (you can easily be replaced). Never take the complements or testimonies personally, learn to direct glory to God. In the same way, do not take it personally when you encounter those who express their anger against God through you. You are just a servant, the work is not yours.

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Washing one’s feet was a task allotted to slaves in the Jewish culture, it was the most humiliating task anyone would do for another. The disciples were shocked. Peter even tried to protest Jesus’ action but Jesus explained: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:14-15).

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Luke tells us that Jesus told a “parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others.” (Luke 18:9) One of the symptoms of pride is trusting in ourselves rather than in God, forgetting that our righteousness is a product of grace, not personal efforts.

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By his very life, Jesus showed us that the key to greatness is service. St. Paul says: Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant…. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” (Philippians 2:5-11). Serve others with gladness. God will lift you to greater heights.

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God expects more from us than the rest of the world. God expects us to shine like bright stars in a world so full of darkness. God wants you to make a difference.

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Listen to what he said in today’s Gospel passage: “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven.” (John 3:27). How often do we remember this? How often do we ministers of God remember that we must decrease and allow God to increase in the hearts of our flock?

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Let us learn from Mary to say to God: “Behold I am your handmaid, let your will be done in my life.” Mary abandoned herself for God and her consent allowed God to work mightily in her.

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