Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 1
May True Humility Be the Virtue Which Guides Each of Us in All That We Say, in All That We Do for One Another in Our Daily Lives.
“My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” – words which God gives us today from the Book of Sirach, one of the Wisdom Books from the Old Testament.
Exactly what is humility? What does it mean to us in our day-to-day lives, as we go about fulfilling our responsibilities to both family and faith? We’ve heard the term spoken many times before in Sacred Scripture. And our Lord has spoken or directly alluded to it in some of our Gospel Readings throughout the year.
Webster’s Dictionary defines humility as the state of being humble, an attitude or a way of thinking and acting which is empty of pride, arrogance and self-righteousness.
And in the Catechism it is described as “the virtue by which a Christian acknowledges that God is the author of all good”, and is “the foundation for our turning to God in prayer”. And as Saint Augustine tells us, in our humility and openness of heart, “Man is a beggar before God.”
The Catechism goes on further to say that humility can be described as a “poverty of spirit”. And how did our Lord speak about it in His Sermon on the Mount? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
And today He speaks to us with the words, “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” And in another place He says, “…learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart…”
When the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Eternal Word, took flesh upon Himself so that He could walk amongst us and teach us of the Eternal Truth which His Father wanted to share with us, our Lord humbled Himself by leaving the glory and awesomeness of His Heavenly Throne, so that He could become one like us in all things except sin.
In the example of His birth in a stable on a cold winter night, He taught us what it truly meant to empty oneself of pride and self-importance, and to place upon oneself the mantle of absolute humility. And in this example which He left us on that first Christmas morning, we begin to learn the virtue which pleases God the most.
Beginning with His Holy Birth, Jesus was teaching us about the importance of being humble of heart. And we find, in the virtue of humility, a purity and selflessness of thought, word and deed – a virtue which enables us, through the grace of God, to avoid ambition and pride. And true humility helps detach us from those worldly elements which tend to separate us from God’s Love.
In our practice of this virtue which helps us to truly live the gift of faith which you and I have been given, we read from the Letter to the Hebrews today – “You have not approached that which could be touched…No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…and God the judge of all…and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant…”
When we can look at life through the eyes of a faith which is truly lived, then humility becomes the foundation for our prayer life, for we freely acknowledge that we need God’s help in our strivings to be a holier and more virtuous people.
Humility helps us to empty from ourselves our own ego, our own pride and selfishness which separates us from God. And it is this form of humility which fosters a deeper relationship of love between ourselves and the God who loves us, the God who opens His Heart to us.
When we deepen our relationship with Jesus, we find within ourselves a deepened desire to return that love which He freely gives to you and me. We begin to find ourselves freely loving as He loves, freely giving as He gives, for it is His Spirit of Love which becomes alive and generously living within and through us.
And it was C.S. Lewis, a twentieth century novelist, poet and theologian, who was once quoted as saying, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
In the First Letter of Peter, in his address to the early Christian communities, we read, “…all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: ‘God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.’ So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.”
And casting our worries upon God is a sign of our willingness to live the virtue of humility, of letting go and letting God take control over those things about which we have no real control ourselves.
Some time ago, I remember being told a story about a young woman who was attending Mass. She was in deep sorrow over circumstances in her life. She knew that she should try to fight the thoughts of hopelessness that raced through her mind, but she found it next to impossible.
She barely made it through the Liturgy of the Mass, and as she rose to go to Communion, she began to pray in her heart: “Jesus, deliver me from the hand of the enemy. Jesus, deliver me from the hand of the enemy.”
When she returned to her pew, she knelt down, buried her face in her arms, and wept silently. Just then, she felt a sense of deep relief. Her challenges remained, but the despair was gone. Jesus had taken on her burden. She knew she could face her life with new hope because she was convinced that Jesus was with her – consoling her with His Love.
In her humility, she knew that she needed to let go of all that was filling her with despair. In her humility, she began to trust like she had never trusted before.
This is the power of God’s Love – for as James tells us in his Letter, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble…Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.”
And Jesus trusted in His Father so completely that He willingly endured the suffering and death on the Cross, humbling Himself so that each one of us may one day be raised up with Him – teaching us the great gift which a humble heart will receive – from a God who will exalt us from the unfathomable and indescribable Love which He has for each and every one of us!
When Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees about choosing places of honor at a wedding banquet in today’s Gospel, it reminded me of a comment Saint Faustina had written in her diary on Divine Mercy regarding certain people with whom she was acquainted.
She wrote, “…when one is inflated with pride and self-love under the pretense for God’s glory, while in fact one is seeking one’s own glory? When I see such a thing, it gives me very great pain. How can such a soul be united closely with God? Union with the Lord is out of the question here” (Diary, 1139).
It is with sadness that more people do not pay heed to the Scriptures and all that God is trying to teach us through His written Word.
For those of God’s children who truly seek an intimate and holy relationship with our Lord, may true humility be the virtue which guides each of us in all that we say, in all that we do for one another in our daily lives.
And may our response to our calling as a Christian people be one of true Christian charity and generosity in such a way that our Heavenly Father, “who sees in secret”, may repay each of us, one day, with the gift which you and I long for – the gift of everlasting life!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “My son, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find mercy in the sight of God.” (Sirach 3:17-18)
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” (Matthew 5:3, 5)
- “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
- “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Matthew 11:29a)
- “[Christ Jesus], though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)
- “You have not approached that which could be touched…No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…and God the judge of all…and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant…” (Hebrews 12:18a, 22, 23b, 24a)
- “…all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: ‘God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.’ So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5b-7)
- “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble…Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.” (James 4:6b, 10)
- “If then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Prayer for the Day
“Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty,
my memory, my understanding and my whole will.
“All that I am and all that I possess You have given me:
I surrender it all to You
to be disposed of according to Your will.
“Give me only Your Love and Your grace;
with these I will be rich enough,
and will desire nothing more.”Saint Ignatius of Loyola