Homily – 22nd Sunday OT C 8/29/10

Homily – 22nd Sunday OT C 8/29/10

Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.

Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

The readings this Sunday focus on the important virtue of humility.

The teaching of the scriptures, the teaching of the Church and the writings and lives of the saints are unanimous in saying how very important it is for us as followers of Jesus to possess this virtue of humility.

St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, teaches us that while humility isn’t the greatest of virtues, one must first possess humility before one can begin to grow in the greater virtues of faith, hope and charity.

And as students begin a new academic year, St. Thomas also said unless a person has this virtue of humility, it will be impossible for that person to really learn anything.

Without humility, all the virtues and all the knowledge we acquire are spoiled by the vice of pride.

We see how much God extolls the virtue of humility in the Virgin Mary’s Magnificat, her song of praise at the Visitation.

Mary sings:

My soul magnifies the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my savior;

Because God has seen the humility I possess as his handmaid,

For this reason all generations will call me blessed.

St. Josemaria Escriva comments that it’s not because of Mary’s faith, great as it was, it’s not because of Mary’s love, tremendous as it was, it’s not even because of Mary’s purity and sinlessness, immaculate as it was, it was because of Mary’s humility that caused God to exalt her above all creatures, it was because of her humility that all generations these past 2000 years have praised and loved Mary above all women.

So what exactly is humility? Humility can be defined as the ability to know who you are and to know who God is clearly and objectively.

The humble person knows first and foremost that he is a child of the all powerful, all loving God. The humble person knows and accepts the talents God has given him, and develops and uses those talents to the fullest so that God alone may be glorified and His Kingdom may be built up on this earth.

The humble person also however knows his shortcomings and sins, and knows how much even the smallest sins offend Jesus. The humble person doesn’t try to excuse or rationalize his sins and failures, but recognizes his need for God’s grace and mercy in his life.

In contrast, the proud person always thinks he is more talented or virtuous that he really is, or at least he’d like others to think so.

The proud person is in denial about his weaknesses and sins, he rarely examines his conscience in the light of God’s law, rarely thinks of how offensive they are to God and how damaging they are to those around him.

And while the humble person uses his talents for the glory of God and the building up of God’s Kingdom, the proud person uses his talents only to further glorify himself and build up his ego.

A great example of humility in this respect is St. Joan of Arc. At the age of 17, Joan had already led the French Army in victory after victory, drove the occupying British forces out of France, and put the rightful ruler, King Charles the VII, on the throne, all because God told her this was what he was calling her to do.

King Charles in gratitude on his coronation day told Joan he would give her anything she wanted for all she did for him and for her country.

Joan of Arc could have asked to become the Queen, she could have probably taken power from the King and all France would have obeyed her.

Instead, Joan said “I only want you never to tax the village I grew up in.”

So great was her humility, this talented, brave, faith filled young woman only cared about her faith, her country, and her loved ones’ well being at home.

Incidentally, the Catholic King Charles and every French King after him were humble enough to honor her request, and for the next 360 years the little village Joan of Arc grew up in was tax free, until the French Revolution came and took away the towns tax exemption.

Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

What our world needs today is more humble Joan of Arcs, and less proud French Revolutions.

Let us pray in this Eucharist that Jesus, who is meek and humble of heart, may give us the virtue of humility in all aspects of our life, that He may exalt us with blessings in this life and reward us with a high seat of honor in heavenly banquet.

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