Blessed are you who believed (Lk 1, 45)
The apostles say to Jesus, “Increase our faith.” This petition reveals the correct Christian attitude.
True disciples acknowledge that they are poor. Hence, they keep asking, seeking and knocking. They live by faith; they look beyond themselves to live and in order not to lose hope, love, stability, vision, in tough times. They very well know that without prophetic vision, they will sink into chaos and that unless they believe, they will not survive (Prov 29, 18; Is 7, 9).
And Jesus affirms their posture of faith and smallness. He looks tenderly at them and assures them that even the little faith of the little ones who leave themselves at God’s hands, in the confident manner of a child on its mother’s lap, makes them capable of unbelievable deeds. He who has taken the form of a slave urges them to place themselves at God’s complete disposition, always considering themselves useless servants.
The truth is that we humans are of no use to God. The almighty and all-sufficient Creator of everything has no need of sanctuaries, nor does he need anybody to do anything for him (Acts 17, 24-25). He does not eat the flesh of bulls nor does he drink the blood of goats (Ps 50, 13).
We are the ones who need to nourish ourselves with his flesh and blood. He does us a huge favor, inviting us to serve him and to share in the hardships for the gospel. We have received from him everything we have, and it is only by his grace that we are able to do anything worthwhile—which, according to St. Vincent de Paul, missionaries should be convinced of (Common Rules of the C.M., XII, 14).
Rightly, then, is a companion of Jesus more a mystic than an ascetic (Pope Francis). What matters, first and foremost, to the former is to remain in Jesus, while the latter, like an athlete, tends to rely on his rigorous training, his own efforts and skills. The mystic does not congratulate himself (cf. Common Rules of the C.M., XII, 3, 4); he recognizes that he can do nothing without Jesus.
He gives thanks, but without praising himself. He is not fixated on others’ transgressions either to claim superiority or to find excuse for his own failings. The true servant of servants, who tries to live according to the Christian notion of authority (Mt 20, 26-28), defines and summarizes himself deeply, most accurately, most truly, as “a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon” (Pope Francis; cf. Lk 5, 8).
Hence, real followers of Jesus are not self-righteous. They not only do not cling to money; they also renounce all self-righteous claim to higher doctrinal certainty. They experience doubts. For this reason, they strive to discern, admitting at the same time that “uncertainty is in every true discernment that is open to finding confirmation in spiritual consolation” (Pope Francis). Authentic disciples do not declare themselves to be all-knowing, they do not claim to have the answers to all the questions, nor do they settle for a god that fits their measure. They are descendants of Abraham who, by faith, went out, not knowing where he was going.
They, of course, keep their eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith, the first of all the believing and blessed poor, who, giving his body up and shedding his blood for us sinners, commended his spirit into the hands of the Father.