Today’s theme is all about humility. Sirach admonishes us “my child, conduct your affairs with humility” while Jesus, to the invited guests, said, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted”. Dearest sisters and brothers, humility, one would say, is the queen of all virtues. Its opposite, pride, is the first of the seven deadly sins and it is the father of all sins. It destroyed our first parents in their seeking to be like God.
Jesus, in coming into the world, took the way of humility. As Paul tells us in Philippians, that even though he was God, he became man to save us. Christ’s whole life is an incarnation of humility. In following Christ’s example, anyone who wants to be a true Christian must imitate Christ’s humility. The word humility coming from humus means that all of us as creatures are from the dust. It means “recalling always our origin from dust, our duty of submission to our creator, and our total dependence on Him and on one another”.
One simple way to test our humility is to examine how we regard the gifts given to others. Are we jealous of them or do we wish that they were not given those gifts or talents? In the gospel, those invited were not humble enough to receive their position from the host, they wanted to take it themselves. This is exactly what happens when we wish that the gifts of others were ours rather than theirs.
Humility also means recognizing the grace of God working in us. It is not the false pretense of being comfortable in one’s weakness thinking that one cannot change for the better. It is also, on the other hand, accepting the truth that we are all sinners. If we are all sinners, to be humble means that we cannot be judging or criticizing others since none of us is better than the other. If there is any good we think we do, they are all done by God’s grace.
To be humble is to think about others first since pride is self-centeredness. It is to live out the prayer of St. Francis, “seeking not so much to be consoled as go console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love”. It means not always having it our own way. A priest once told a story of a Sacristan in one parish who is called Sergeant Major. She is called that not because she had retired from the army but because everything had to be done her way.
May we never be a sergeant major in relationship with others. Remember as Dante says, Pride is “the love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbor.”