Humility and trust are key attitudes for every Christian committed to living and sharing the message of the Gospel.
St Paul explains in the first reading that he and the other ministers of the faith are nothing but servants and instruments of God, Who alone causes the growth of the faith in our hearts and the building up of the Church. It’s quite a statement coming from Paul, who travelled all the known world and suffered so much to spread the Gospel, but he knows that it is by God’s grace that he has done these things, and that he has been effective in starting Christian communities.
In the Gospel, Jesus also gives us his own example of humility. He spends the day preaching, and then the night, healing people and casting out demons (He had to wait until night because it was the Sabbath and the people were not allowed to travel to Him during the day). Right after this marathon of miracles and preaching, instead of staying there to bask in praise and honor, He went to a hidden place to pray, and then moved on.
Since He was God, that praise and honor was rightly his, but the people did not yet understand that. The situation is similar to what St Paul describes in the first reading: they are spiritually infants, not ready for Jesus to proclaim his identity as the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity. In fact, Jesus silences the demons who try to reveal who He is. He knows that it is too soon, and would only cause confusion. As we see on other occasions, the people would try to crown Him as the earthly King of Israel; they still think that the Messiah will be a political leader like King David. So, Jesus wants to be sure that the crowds’ gratitude and glory go to God the Father and stays on the spiritual level. He is not in it for himself.
Hopefully, each of us has also done work for God’s kingdom, each in our own way – whether it be by passing on our faith to our children, or teaching religious ed classes, or helping the Church in other ways with our time and resources. Our contributions are certainly laudable and important; God wants us to contribute all we can to His work of salvation. It is important, though, that we always remember that, like Paul or Apollos, we are only God’s co-workers; He is the one who works through our efforts to make good things happen.
God has chosen for our contribution to be necessary for the life of the Church, but it is not sufficient. Ultimately it depends on God, and He is entirely dependable. So, let us do our best to live and spread the Gospel, but always with total confidence and faith in God’s power and love, with the attitude of today’s psalm: “Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield, for in Him our hearts rejoice; in His holy name we trust.”