Homily for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: GOD EXALTS THE HUMBLE
By: Fr Ben Ogechi Agbara
Homily for Sunday September 1 2019
The theme of humility features prominently in the readings of today. It reminds me of an ancient poem by John Bunyan, “The Song of the Shepherd Boy in the Valley of Humiliation”. In the first stanza, the poet wrote: “He that is down need fear no fall. He that is low, no pride; He that is humble ever shall have GOD to be his guide”. The words of this poem can be a way of reechoing the admonition of JESUS in the Gospel of today (Luke 14:1. 7-14). The words of JESUS can be read to mean “he that is humble need not fear humiliation; He that is humble is exalted by GOD”.
Humility is an important virtue in life. It is a virtue that reminds us of our origin and of our destination, namely, the soil. The Latin word “humus”, from which humility was derived, means “soil”. We are made from the soil and we shall return to the soil. Humility, therefore implies bringing oneself low. It makes one to take the lowest position like the soil is. This what JESUS implied when He admonished His host and other guests to always take the lowest seat at banquets. A person who has taken the lowest position cannot be brought lower. Any change of position is certainly to a more dignified one.
Humility, however, does not stop one from achieving what we ought to achieve. It makes one not to be carried away by his achievement. In the First reading taking from Ecclesiasticus or Sirach 3:17-20. 28-29, the word of GOD invites us to be humbler in the midst of great achievements. “The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly”. The reward for this humble behavior is that you will find favor with the Lord. Indeed, GOD favors the humble person. He exalts him/her. That is why JESUS says: Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted. A humble person receives favor from GOD because he is a person of prayer. A proud person cannot pray properly. It is in humility that we acknowledge that we are owned by GOD. It is this acknowledgement that engenders a life of prayer. A humble person is a grateful person. He acknowledges his dependence and returns thanks for all achievements. A proud person attributes his achievements to himself. A humble person identifies with the less privileged, because he sees his own privilege as a product of GOD’s identification in his life. That is why, in talking about humility, JESUS admonishes His listeners to think of the less privileged and invite them whenever they organize banquets.
Humility also brings one favor in the sight of human beings. A humble person is loved because he has time to listen to others. He does not allow every discussion to revolve around his person and his achievement. He finds favor with people because he shows interest in the life story and achievement of others. He finds favor with people because he acknowledges every assistance he gets. A humble person is ever ready to apologize because he recognizes the fact that he is not perfect. He is loved by others because he prefers to serve rather than to be served. The service he gives is not just a show, but a way of life that flows from his inner being.
There is so much strife in the world today because many have lost this sense of humility. There is so much craving for positions of honor. Nations, communities, organizations and even churches are divided because of craving for places of honor. Relationships (even marital relationships) are broken because no one wants to take the path of humility. The needs of the people are neglected because leaders are not ready to give up their stand on some issues.
JESUS invites us to guide against pride. It has destroyed many people. You must not win every argument. Learn to give up. You are not always right. Learn to apologize. You are not the only achiever. Listen to the story of others. You do not only have rich and influential friends and school mates. Look for the poor and rich ones. You must not always be visited. Learn to visit without expecting a reciprocal visit. You must not always be called. Learn to call. You must not always be greeted. Learn to greet. You must not always be understood. Learn to understand with those who misunderstand you. These are ways of checking our humility. But the greatest way to measure your humility is the closeness of your life to the life of JESUS. The second reading (Hebrew 12:18-19. 22-24) describes Him as the mediator who brings a new covenant. This was done with the blood he shed on the cross. The cross has been described as the symbol of His humility. He emptied Himself; became humble to the point of accepting death on the cross. The cross is also the symbol of His exaltation. GOD has raised Him on high. He took the lowest position and GOD raised Him to the highest. We are invited to humble ourselves as he did, because GOD exalts the humble. JESUS, meek and humble of heart, make our heart like unto Your heart.
GOD bless us!