Sirach 3: 17-20, 28-29; Hebrews 12: 18-19, 22-24; Luke 14: 1, 7-14
We thank God for this wonderful opportunity He has given to us once again to listen to His word. We thank Him because He gave us life and the strength to be here. We thank Him because He protected us in all we did last week. May His Name be glorified for ever and ever, Amen.
Our readings today invite us to reflect on the virtue of humility. And what is humility? Humility is the true self knowledge which enables us to know and accept our actual selves instead of pretending to be who we are not. It is a virtue that makes us not to see ourselves as more important than other people, either by status, spiritual, material or temporal accomplishments. In the Gospel passage, Jesus tells us about the need to be humble. He told a parable of a wedding banquet where some invitees were choosing the places of honor at the table. This group of persons are the ones who always feel that they are the most important. They feel that they should be the ones to sit at those positions. They judge the others to be of far lesser importance than they are. However, experience has shown us that some people in this group are always disappointed when they are asked to give away their seats as Jesus explained. “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Humility is not judging ourselves in comparison with others rather, it is evaluating ourselves to see how far we have used the talents and resources given to us by God to better the lives of others. Humility is not self abasement or humiliation. Humility is strength, abasement is weakness, and humiliation comes from outside. Humility is that inner strength that makes a husband to walk up to the wife after a quarrel and say, HONEY, AM SORRY. If you are not humble, you cannot acknowledge your wrong. If you are not humble, you will find it difficult even to approach a priest to make confession. A life without humility is a life of pride and pride is a twin sister to arrogance. There is that element of pride in each and everyone of us but we need to constantly put it on check. However, there is a form of pride that is good and there is a false pride too. For example, we should have enough pride that comes from fulfillment that we are using our gifts to better others. False pride deceives us to think that we are self sufficient, and as such we don’t need other people to survive. That is the kind of pride that brought Lucifer down.
Humility empowers the person because it flows from within. Humility does not flow from one’s status or profession instead it flows from the person. Therefore, do not think that if you become a doctor or teacher, you will become humble. No, a farmer who is not humble will not be humble even if he becomes a pilot. A doctor who is not humble will not be humble even if he becomes a priest. And a priest who is not humble will not be humble even if he becomes married.
Humility demands honesty and sacrifice. A humble person does not blow the trumpet when he does something. A lot of people sacrifice a lot to see that our parish is moving on, they go home quietly unnoticed. A lot of people work day and night to see that we have a good liturgy, a clean Church, a clean rectory and they go home unnoticed. That is humility. People take up some projects in the Church, complete them and go home quietly unnoticed. That is humility. But some of us would like their names to be in front of the bulletin because they brought soda to the rectory. Is that humility? The person who gave a lot of money to the school and complained that they didn’t include her name in the school brochure. Is that humility? We have a call to be humble Christians after the example of Jesus Christ who humbled himself and became a man to die for us (Phil 2: 6-11). When we live a humble life God blesses and exalts us.
We conclude with a story: There was a man living with his family beside a river. This man was both a fisherman and a diver. Whenever people were crossing the river and their boat capsized, some people will run to tell this man. He would go immediately and rescued those who were drowning. Whenever he did this, people would start thanking God. He asked the people, “why are you thanking God instead of thanking me for the good job I did. Since you are thanking God and not me, the next time someone is getting drowned, you people may need to wait on God to come rescue that person.” It happened that his wife and three kids traveled across the water to visit the grandmother and to spend a week with her. On reaching there,they discovered that grandma has been taken away by the daughter. So they decided to spend just two days before going back. On their way back, their boat capsized and people ran and told this man that some people were drowning. He told them to wait for God to go rescue those people. They begged him but he would not leave his house. He believed that his wife and three kids were to come back in a week’s time. In the morning, the corpses of those who were drowned floated on the water and the people realized that these were the man’s wife and his children. So they went back to tell him and he cried out, “see what pride has caused me.”
Rev Faustinus Okeyikam, MSP