On Being Humble
Sunday’s first reading was from Sirach 3:17-18,20,28-29 where we hear, “My child, conduct your affairs with humility.” The Gospel was Luke 14: 1, 7-14 where we hear “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Catholic workbook for readers remarks, “Jesus extends the teaching on humility beyond the mere exchange of places of honor for lower places at the table. In this uniquely Lucan parable , Jesus points out that humility involves not only how we behave as guests at others’ banquets, but whom we invite when we host a gathering….Repayment does not matter… All that we need God will provide…”
One of the unique characteristics of Christianity I have always admired is its emphasis on humility. Oh, I suppose other religions also value this virtue but I am no theologian and have not the education and training to say one way or the other. Yet, whether in religions or just everyday life one can see the tendency to not be humble, to be aggressive.
We must be careful in our definition of humility. For me it is the quality of being willing to listen, to not let your ego overtake your spirit, that everything in the world does not revolve around ME, ME, ME. Humility is the opposite of Narcissism. I am not the center of the universe, God is.
Merriam Webster defines being humble as – “reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission.” And is this not how we come to God in prayer? Do we come before our Creator in full blown aggressive, arrogant and demanding behavior or do we enter into our relationship and discourse with God on our knees, in praise, honor and adoration? Do we not pray, “Thy kingdom come thy will be done?” It is not our will but His. It is not what we want but what He wants and knows what is best for us.
The real test of being humble is not before God but in our daily interaction with humankind. Somehow we seem to have grasped the need to treat God well yet we treat each other with disdain and contempt. It’s not just a matter of Love, although that is central to our translating into human thinking what God is all about. Yet love is a concept while being humble is an application. To be loving is to be humble. It is thinking of the other before yourself, it is letting go all thoughts of exalting yourself and to just be. That’s right just be and be accepting of where God takes you and open to receiving His grace. It is about looking inside instead of outside for what God has placed inside you is very Holy.
Instead of trying to get ahead in life, to get more and more and more try just striving to enjoy the journey as it unfolds and to be thankful for what you have. In the Beatitudes we hear, The meek shall inherit the earth. I rather think that was meant to be the humble shall inherit the earth. It’s not about being timid it’s about being less self centered and more into the oneness of us all. One can be demonstrative without being an ego maniac. One can shout from the rooftops yet still be humble.
Such are the views of a lay person such as I. This view could be challenged by a theologian. So be it. I welcome all who have differing views and who can further open my eyes. Here is one other view by someone much more theologically educated than I.