Sunday, September 02, 2007

True Humility (Sunday homily)

Our readings are a lesson in humility.

We all need it; we all get it in, well, humbling ways.

I had Mass one time, someone else gave the homily—
and after Mass, people shook my hand, saying,
“Great homily father!”

We’re all for it—especially in others!

What does it mean to be “humble”?

First, let’s be clear what it does not mean:
It’s not being a doormat.

If we don’t think we’re nothing,
It isn’t God who says that!
Wrestling with self-esteem is a hard battle.

My point is, God never tells us
to tear ourselves down.
Sometimes people take verbal or physical abuse.
This is not “humility”!

The second reading shows the City of God,
Angels gathered, celebrating, paying tribute:
Who are they honoring?
The “assembly of the firstborn”—that’s us!
Does that sound like God thinks we’re nothing?

If someone we know is facing abuse—
We need to tell them what God says:
“You are precious—and you don’t have to take it.”

If humility isn’t putting ourselves down,
What is it?

Humility is listening to God tell us who we are.

We think we’re big-stuff,
God knocks us down a peg;
If we think we’re nothing,
God tells us how precious we are:
In both cases, we need to listen!

We need to listen
When God calls us to change our lives;
We need to listen
When God says, “you can do it!”
We need to listen when God says, “I forgive you!”

If we listen to God tell us who we are,
We don’t need to “demand our props”—
We don’t need to go along with the crowd.

If we listen to God tell us how precious we are,
Our sins don’t destroy us, our limits don’t define us;
God determines human worth.

A day-old human embryo, a dirty beggar on the street,
An “alternate lifestyle” on parade, a terrorist on a plane.
Saint or sinner, wrong or right,
All are precious in his sight.

What is humility?

Humility says, “I know who I am in God’s eyes—
And that’s enough.”


Anonymous said...

A large part of humility, to me anyway, is never placing ourselves in a privileged position above others, never saying that we are more blessed or favored than they are. Instead, each true Christian needs to forget his or her own ego, but rather loving and helping others in whatever need they have without a desire for thanks or payback.

I subscribe to US Catholic & there is a wonderful article on humility in this month's issue. Had to laff a bit when they called the RC hierarchy on the carpet (gently and lovingly, of course) for its pomp and circumstance - which is so obviously (esp to non RC's) unlike the behavior & lifestyle of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, who never sported papal crowns nor would require the apostles to kneel and kiss his jeweled rings even if he had any - which we may safely assume he did not! Read & heed, all ye popes, cardinals, & bishops! Hee, hee!


Jackie said...

Gosh Annie,

I read your comments last night before I went to bed and have prayed and thought about them since then. I wish we could ‘chat over a cup of coffee or lunch’ as I think that would be much more productive than a blog response. But, we have what we have.

I think that you may have confused a legitimate position of authority and humility. Our Lord not only had a position of authority (think of the Transfiguration – He didn’t need a ring – he was glorified and the 3 Apostles fell on their faces – prostrate.) AND Our Lord was humble. These are NOT mutually exclusive things. Although – when a person is in a position of authority – he or she is certainly tempted to not be humble so we must pray for our bishops and priests.

I as a mother am in a position of authority over my son. I not only know this and must accept it BUT am required to ensure he knows it too – otherwise he would not learn true humility in the face of legitimate authority. I am still called to be humble, Since we are humans – body and soul - and have original sin and all of the consequences of that – we need to be reminded of this authority in visible ways – often through ceremony and habit. Hence, my son was expected to say ‘Yes, Ma’am’, to step out of the pew and back so that I stepped in front of him to go to Holy Communion, etc. I have taught and expected these things not just because these are polite and he’s being raised to be a gentleman, but because I AM HIS MOTHER and expect him to treat me that way.

Our Dear Lord DID call men to be in positions of authority and called one man, Peter, to be in authority over them. They were no less called to be humble but the humility included accepting and acknowledging intellectually as well as physically that they had authority. So John ran ahead of Peter to the empty tomb but he did not enter first – he waited for Peter.

This authority had to be shown visibly as well as intellectually – hence we have rings, and vestments, etc. It is a help to us who don’t always see our bishop and when we do they look just like any other man that, in fact, ARE in a position of authority. All of the things you listed are to be a help to us – to remind us – and they are often an occasion of sin for these men – some of whom have not always been humble.

Lastly, Annie, a gentle and loving little rebuke - I’m not sure that the hee hee at the end of your post exactly demonstrated the humility that you are asking of your bishops and priests, your fathers.

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Anonymous said...

Dear Jackie, what can I say but, "Lighten up."


Jackie said...

Dear Annie,

I apologize if I misunderstood your post or offended you. Please forgive me.

Anonymous said...

Jackie, no apologies are needed. It's okay to have a different opinion.
You expressed yours well and amiably. No offense taken at all!
I appreciate hearing the thoughts of others and find them interesting and worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

a fine post Jackie. An important part of humility is obedience. Especially to Christ and His Church!

Anonymous said...


As a father, the most humbling thing is realizing that the Lord has given me responsibility for the proper raising of my children. What an awesome responsibility! The first time I held one of my children (I have 4 now) I was in awe that my wife and I had been given such a precious gift. How small I felt at that moment, but , though through the Lord we are given strength to be what he needs us to be. I have felt that with all 4 of my children. That responsibility has kept me humble in all that I do. For how can I fail them and Our Lord.


I think you need to "Read and Heed" Jackie's post again. It has become the custom in our world to have contempt for authority. This is also prideful.

The model that Jesus left us with was a Shepherd and a flock, not anarchy or a mob. Mobs don't think rationally, they think as a massed animal. The Lord calls us to more than that. A Shepherd not only seeks out the lost sheep, but, they keep order in the flock, and teach the flock to move together. Otherwise the flock goes off in all directions, which, one could rightly say this is what is happening with Christians in the last few centuries.

Leadership is a two edged sword, true rank hath privilege and power, so as to make things happen, but as Christ shows in the washing of the feet of the apostles, a leader is also the servant of those he leads. This has been the basis of the Christian (and western) leadership ideal for centuries. Those who forget that are (and should be) vilified or deposed.