HOMILY FOR THE 22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: The Virtue of Humility
BY: Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY AUGUST 28 2022
The theme of humility is found in both our first reading (Sirach 3:17–18, 20, 28–29) and our Gospel passage (Luke 14:1–7, 14). If I were the pope, I would have designated today as the Sunday of Humility. And I will encourage preachers to teach, explain, and preach about humility this Sunday, especially in their homilies. We can all agree that our world needs to be reminded of the virtue of humility. However, as you already know, I am not the pope.
In our first reading (Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29), the Preacher offers the secret to having a good friendship with God and, naturally, with one another. “My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God,” he counsels. Indeed, this is the case.
Jesus Christ, our Lord, exemplified humility throughout his life and ministry. Likewise, this must be true for Christians.
Furthermore, the Preacher warns us that pride is a disease. The good news is that pride is curable by imitating the humility of Jesus Christ, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God…, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-11).
Our gospel reading (Luke 14:1-7, 14) brings us to the pinnacle of humility. Christ exhorts us: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Humility is an indispensable tool for every Christian in his or her spiritual battle. We observe it in the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was so humble that God exalted her to be the mother of His Son. St. Francis de Sales said, “The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility.”
“Humility” is derived from the Latin word “humilitas,” which means “lowliness” or “submissiveness.” It is an absence of arrogance or self-importance (lowliness) and a willingness to carry out the wishes of others (submissiveness). As a virtue, humility is the habit of always considering one’s flaws or weaknesses. This consideration leads to a sincere knowledge of oneself and a willingness to submit to God and others for God’s sake.
Alex Haley, the author of the novel “Roots,” said he kept a picture of a turtle in his office, sitting on a fencepost. He said he kept the picture to remind him of a lesson he learned long ago: “If you see a turtle sitting on a fencepost, you know he didn’t get there by himself, he had some help getting there.” Haley said, “Anytime I start thinking, ‘isn’t it wonderful the things I have done,’ I look at the picture of this turtle and I see myself and I remember I didn’t get where I am without a lot of help from others.”
St. Thomas Aquinas’s definition of humility coincides with Alex Haley’s story. “The virtue of humility,” he says, “consists in keeping oneself within one’s own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior.”
There is no downside to being humble. According to the Book of Proverbs, “humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth, honor, and life” (22:4). In contrast, pride leads to defeat and humiliation. Any spiritual life that is not founded on humility is without a doubt a fake one. This is because humility is the first step in the spiritual life.
“Humility is the foundation of prayer” (CCC 2559). Only a humble heart can come and prostrate before God in prayer. A humble person is always ready to ask for guidance from God and from others. He is also ready to listen to and learn from others. It takes humility to say please and also to ask for forgiveness. So let us humbly implore the Lord: “O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours. From the desire to be honored and esteemed, deliver me!” Happy Sunday!