up and down

Mar 13, 2021


It’s common to think of up as good and down as bad. We prefer to be “up” rather than “down” and the one who is struggling is often encouraged not to look down but to keep their head up and their gaze upward.

That key word humble which features in today’s gospel is often misunderstood, perhaps because our perspective is too limited.

While a mountain-top moment refers to a positive experience, we know too that to go to the depth of a matter or to live deeply is even more positive.

In the same way we affirm someone when we say that they are “grounded.”

New Zealand poet James K. Baxter reflected that a great help to keeping our feet on the ground is to keep our hands in the soil, since (he adds) Adam was a gardener.

And just one more positive for the lower view: the electrical appliance that is “earthed” is safe to use.

In Jesus, God ‘came DOWN’ to earth. Too often we look for God in distant and elevated places when God is present and active in the ordinary down-to-earth hum-drum routine moments of our day and in the simplicity of our thoughts and ordinariness of our actions.

A priest of my home diocese of Christchurch gave a powerful teaching on humility when preaching at the Month’s Mind Mass for his friend Bishop Barry Jones four weeks after Barry’s death in 2016. Fr Kevin Clark died in September last year and his reflection on humility has a timeless quality and I am happy to be able to share it here:

“I always found it [humility] something of a puzzling sort of a virtue because it seemed to me a virtue in which we told lies about ourselves, “I am not very good, I’m pretty awful”… all of which is untrue.

“I love in that first chapter of Luke where the angel appeared to Our Lady… It is so hard for us to realise how much the people of Israel looked to the future, to the coming of the Messiah, this was their culmination which meant that some day some woman would give birth to the Messiah. Nobody would have  greater role in the history of the world. And this young girl, young woman from Nazareth is told that she is the one. And she says that I can’t do that, I’m not married, but the angel said that this is God’s business so she says, “yes, all right.”

“I know the translations don’t say “yes all right”, but that is what she said – I am a servant of the Lord so  yes, alright. That’s humility. That is no protest. There is no falseness at saying that someone else could do it better than me. She knew that she was the chosen one and therefore she said “yes, alright”.

An Invitation:

  • as you reflect on the words above, how is your attraction to live “humbly” growing?
  • Thank you to all the FFF benefactors. It is a beautiful word: “The Latin roots of benefactor are bene, which means “well,” and facere, which means “to do” — literally, “to do well.” A benefactor does well by supporting (usually financially) a person or a good cause.” If you would like to become a benefactor of FFF please visit the SUPPORTING FFF page at this link.


  1. Thanks for the sharing.

  2. Thank you seems so trite, but is meant sincerely,

  3. When our grandaughter was
    About 13yrs old, and going through
    family issues, I was feeling down
    About things,and she said,
    “Nana, if we dont have a cross,
    We are selfish” she said it so
    “Out of the mouth of babes”
    Thankyou LORD


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts



I try not to repeat these daily Lenten posts year to year but there are times when the same scriptures pop up annually and I realise that I can’t write it better than I did last year. Today is one such day, not only because of the thought I share but even more in the comments that are added by FFF readers. Today I have left some of last year’s comments helping us to appreciate the power of today’s readings.

my word your home

my word your home

The heart of the home in years past was the hearth.
It was at the hearth that the family gathered for the warmth and light of the flame and the food that was prepared there.
The fire was treated with respect since the same flame which provided energy for the home could just as easily destroy it.

stand up look up

stand up look up

The Israelites in their forty years in the desert were journeying from captivity to freedom, but the struggle of their desert years made them vulnerable to attack from every temptation as today’s first reading continues

confident in God

confident in God

I’m not sure if children today are told the great story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, but if not let’s make sure that the parable is taught at all schools of higher learning.

the teenagers

the teenagers

A few years ago I discovered the wonderful way that God uses my imagination in my prayer.
Such openness to imagination when seeking God does not take us away from reality into fantasy but instead brings me into what is most real and inescapably personal and intimate.