Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Place of Humility


Genuine Humility at it's finest!
Ezekiel 18:25-28
Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 14
Philippians 2:1-11
Matthew 21:28-32

“If he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life… he shall surely live, he shall not die.”

SIN isn’t a very popular word today. In fact, much of our world tends to think it doesn’t even exist and even some Christians refuse to speak about the reality of sin. To admit that sin is real brings up a number of realities for us that we as a country and a world struggle with. To say that sin is real mean that there are such things as right and wrong, not just different opinions. To say that sin is real means that we have obligations to do good rather than express our so-called freedom and do what we want. To say that sin is real means that something, or rather someone, is greater than us in the big picture. Ultimately, to admit that sin is real is simply to say that God is God, I am not, and I have to submit my freedom to His Will. This is hard, especially in our culture today, which often encourages a disordered view of rights, freedom, and individualism. But the reality is that we need to talk about sin, and more importantly, we need to admit that we ourselves are sinners. St. John tells us that if we say we have no sins, we deceive ourselves and make God a liar, but if we confess our sins He will forgive us (1 John 1:8,10).

It’s about humility. When Adam and Eve fell from grace by committing that first sin of disobedience, the Lord came and asked what happened. Adam blamed Eve and ultimately God for making her who tempted him. Eve blamed the serpent for tempting her. It is part of our fallen state to point the finger and to deny our share of sin. But grace is stronger than sin; life has conquered death. To humbly admit our sins is to allow grace to come into our lives and begin that process of gaining eternal life. This is what we find all throughout our readings today – humility leads to confession of sins and repentance, and repentance leads to eternal life.

Humility, then, is the key to this whole process, for without it we stay hardened in our sinfulness. But what is humility? Some think it to be a sort of self degradation where one downplays or even rejects their gifts and graces. But that is not humility; that is rejection of truth. Genuine humility is accepting truth. And what is the truth about us – all of us – that we are at once nothing and everything in the eyes of God. On the one hand, horrible sinners and on the other beloved sons and daughters of God who are so highly treasured that the Father sent the Son to die and ransom us for eternal life. That is the humility we are called to have. And this is the ‘same attitude that is in Christ Jesus’ that Saint Paul encourages us to adopt today. When we are humble, as the responsorial Psalm tells us, we are guided in and taught the way of God Who is Truth.

To say all of this does not mean that I think everyone here is a great and prideful sinner. Hardly! You wouldn’t be here if that were the case. But each of us does sin daily, even if only in small ways, and the call of the Lord is always to repent of those sins and to see the truth about ourselves – that we are beloved children of Our Blessed Lord and that we are called to humbly confess our sins in the sacrament of reconciliation and know thus gain the Lord’s grace and the gift of eternal life.

See the necessity of humility in our lives, I will now pray with you “The Litany of Humility”. Let us pray.

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, deliver me Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I,
                 Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more that I,
                Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
                Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
                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 be preferred to me in everything,
                Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier that I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,
                Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

By Rafael Cardinal Merry de Val (1865-1930)