TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY B: HOMILY
THEME: LET US BE AS HUMBLE AS JESUS IS
The reason why Jesus accepted the most humiliating death was to destroy the pride that caused the original sin. Today’s readings continue with this theme. The Second reading, extracted from the letter of St. James Chapter 3:16-4:3, portrays Jesus as the peaceable, gentle, compliant and merciful person from above who accepts to die for sinners at the hands of proud, non-repentant sinners.
The first reading, taken from Wisdom 2:12 -20 reveals Jesus as the just one who reproaches the sinners for their transgressions of the law. The sinners respond by condemning him to a shameful death.
In the gospel according Mark 9:30-37, Jesus informs us of his humiliating death, while proud apostles struggle for the highest position in Christ’s kingdom! Yet Jesus considers himself to be a humble child ready to do his Father’s will. Those who accept his humility, accept even his father who humbles himself by sacrificing his son for sinners; a thing which powerful nations may not be humble enough to do.
The reason why jealousy, envy, hatred, anger, quarrels and wars persist in people’s hearts and between nations is lack of humility; we are proud by nature; we tend not to give in and let go. That is why a supernatural intervention became necessary to teach us humility.
A humble person is the one who does not over-estimate himself/herself. A humble person obeys God’s Commandments and other just laws and regulations. A humble person respects God and people. A humble person puts his/her trust in God. A humble person is the one who listens to others objectively, one who can associate even with the lowly, especially the poor. A humble person is calm, gentle, self-composed, sincere, considerate, honest, patient and tolerant.
It is the humble, who see their mistakes/sins, repent and ask for forgiveness as the Tax Collector in Lk 18:9-14 does. It is only the humble who can forgive and love enemies.
A humble person is not proud; he/she does not show off. A humble person has no hypocrisy; he/she does not despise others; he/she does not look down upon jobs, responsibilities or studies; a humble person does not glorify himself; he/she is neither jealous nor selfish; he/she is not greedy. A humble person is not after attracting attention; so, a humble person does not dress extravagantly; he/she does not look for places of honor. A humble person accepts his/her limitations and stays at peace. A humble person is not a liar.
A humble person sacrifices his time, energy, belongings, so that others may be happy. That person is humble who serves others as Jesus did instead of waiting to be served. “The greatest should be the servant of all” says Jesus (Mk 9:35; Lk 22:26).
When Peter was rejecting Christ’s humble washing of the Apostles’ feet, Jesus retorted: “if you do not like this new culture of humility you will have no share with me” (Jn 13:8). That means: Peter would be excluded from Christ’s Kingdom, unless he accepted humility. Jesus emphasized, “you must wash each other’s feet” (Jn 13:14-16); that is to say “you must serve each other humbly.”
Christ himself did not come to be served but to serve (Mt 20:28). In other words, Christ introduced a new method: Humility as opposed to Pride which caused death. A humble person is the one who has overcome pride which caused the original sin (Gn 3:5-6).
Lack of humility causes dissension, wars, lack of peace, uneasiness, jealousy, refusal to serve or assist. Lack of humility caused Cain to kill his brother Abel Gen. 4. For the same reason Herod massacred children (Mt 2:16) and John the Baptist (Mk 6:17-29). Deficiency of humility caused Nazism in Germany, Apartheid in South Africa, and Slavery in different parts of the world. Lack of humility causes oppression at work-places and in families.
Absence of humility prevents partners from listening to each other or to their children and vice versa. Pride is an original sin in each individual, urging him/her to have a high opinion of oneself, not bending to the right opinions of others or to laws and rules, not seeing one’s mistakes, but despising others, through racism, intellectual pride, etc. hence causing division and conflicts.
Humility, instead, controls pride and brings about peace, justice, mutual love, assistance and forgiveness.
Humility reconciles man with God, brings and keeps people together, when they humbly listen to and forgive each other, finding solutions together. Humility is an attitude that should flow from what we are: we are mere creatures, with different weaknesses and gifts according to God’s generosity. Each one has his/her own weaknesses and limitations.
Of what can we boast? Race? Gender? Intelligence? Holiness? Energy? Riches? Age? Good deeds? Health? Size? Sociability? Vocation? Is there any one of us who created any of these things out of nothing?
None of us has ever created anything from nothing. Moreover, we are sinners in different ways. The gifts we have were given to us to serve others: Intelligence, energy, education, riches, etc.
Let us humbly put all these gifts at the service of others, especially by helping one another. Sirach advises us saying “the greater you are the more humbly you should behave” (Sirach 3:19-20).
The innocent Jesus accepted the most humiliating death on the cross, so that we may be saved. Let us imitate his humility, in gratitude for the talents he gave us and for the achievements he enables us to reach. And when we have done all he has told us to do, let us say, “we are merely servants; we have done no more than our duty.” (Lk 17:9-10).
As we receive Holy Communion, which came from Christ’s humility, let us imitate his humility.