22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Humility

Today’s readings call us to consider the topic of humility.  Humility is a virtue that most of us struggle with.  Its opposite, pride, is the fundamental flaw of all human beings.  Consider the first sin of Adam and Eve.  The serpent appealed to their pride.  They ate the apple, not because they were hungry, but because they decided that they did not need God.  The original sin of mankind was disobedience through pride.

We have to constantly keep in check our own pride.  When we think about it, all sins are rooted in pride.  There is that “nobody is going to tell me what to do,” element of every sin, the expression of pride. “You gotta problem with that,” the bully, adulterer, thief or what have you says.  They are really not just saying that to their victims or to society; they are saying that to God. We need humility.  We also need people of humility to show us how to live this virtue.  We have been given many great examples; Saint Teresa of Calcutta being a recently visible and outstanding example of such holy humility.

The Pope’s apartments are normally in the Apostolic Palace where his meals are brought to him.  However, Pope Francis doesn’t live in the Apostolic Palace.  He lives in an apartment building with the other clergy who work in the Vatican.  His apartment is just like all the other apartments available for any of the Vatican clergy.  He takes his meals with all the rest who line up for the buffet.  Can you imagine being in line for lunch and turning around seeing the Pope behind you?  After he became Pope, a reporter asked him, “Who are you?”   The Pope responded, “A sinner.” 

Who are you, who am I before the Lord?  We are sinners in continual need of God’s mercy.  The words that we speak immediately before communion are meant to be an expression of whom we are:  “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”  We are not looking for the best seats in the banquet hall of the Lord.  We are humbled that we have been invited to such a Sacred Meal.  We end the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass with the proclamation of where all glory and honor belong: “Through Him and with Him and in Him, O God almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor are yours forever and ever”. 

The prophet Micah wrote, in Micah 6:8, “You have been told what the Lord requires of you: only to do right, to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”  We don’t need to be full of ourselves.  We can battle pride that ruins our lives.  We can be humble. Perhaps sometimes, we feel, “I am not good enough – not good enough as a husband or wife, as a parent, as a priest, or whatever”.  When we feel this way, we are right, and we are wrong.  By ourselves, we are never good enough. That would be pride.  But we are not by ourselves. We have the Lord.  Or, better, He has us.  And it is the Lord who makes us good enough to do the work of His Kingdom.  Let us pray today for the courage to embrace our true dignity and walk humbly with our God.

Fr. Tom