The Need for Humility

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Homily for the twenty-second Sunday (C) in Ordinary Time
Read the accompanying Scripture here.

The theme of the readings this Sunday is humility, which is an essential virtue because it helps us to order our lives to God. We have been created to live our lives in an intimate, personal relationship with God and yet, more likely than not, we give little consideration to what God’s plans might be for us. Our temptation is to live for ourselves and when we live for ourselves we often have little concern for God and others.

The first reading gives us an insight into the wisdom of God. “Humble yourself more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” The greater we are the more indebted to God we are because He is the giver of all good things and when we humble ourselves we are acknowledging that reality.

To be humble is to know the truth about ourselves. In prayer we recognize the gifts God has given us and we develop those gifts with His help for our own good and the good of the Church. We cannot separate our purpose for being on this earth from God’s plan for the coming of His Kingdom. We are children of God and He expects great things from us because it is He who will accomplish them in us.

Humility is not an easy virtue to develop because our natural inclination is to be proud. We want to be recognized for the good things we do, which isn’t so bad in itself if we are aware that God is the source of our accomplishment and we give Him glory. The problem is when we want the glory for ourselves and even become offended if we do not receive it. This can lead to jealousy, envy, resentment and even hatred.

In the Gospel Jesus shows us how we can make progress in developing the virtue of humility. He advises us that if we would go to a banquet not to seek the place of honor but to go to a lower place. In other words we should not seek recognition as if it is due us. This does not mean that if in the course of your career you have accomplished something that deserves a just reward that you let it pass without notice. It does mean that we should not place ourselves above others and clamor for recognition.

Jesus continues his advice by suggesting that when we entertain people we do not only invite those who we know will reciprocate, but also invite those who do not have the means to repay us. In other words what is our motive for the things we do? As we deepen our relationship with God we should discover that with greater frequency we are making decisions that reflect a genuine desire to please God and to grow in sanctity. This is the “narrow road” of which Jesus speaks. We can only travel it with the help of his grace.

For those who desire to travel this road I will read a portion of the “Litany of Humility.”
From the desire of being honored… deliver me O’ Jesus
From the desire of being preferred to others… deliver me O’ Jesus
From the desire of being approved …deliver me O’ Jesus
From the fear of being humiliated… deliver me O’ Jesus
From the fear of being forgotten… deliver me O’ Jesus
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided I become as holy as I should, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it

“It is said that humility is truth. The path that will make us more like Jesus is the path to humility.” – Mother Teresa

All truth begins with Jesus, the Word of God, and he will help us.

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