HOMILY FOR THE 22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: VIRTUE OF HUMILITY
BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY AUGUST 28 2022
Seeking recognition is one of the basic instincts in human beings. Nobody likes being taken for granted and nobody naturally feels bad being honoured. These human dispositions are not bad in themselves but the means through which one wishes to actualize them can be vicious and unchristian. The Christian approach to recognition is different in all ramifications and the Christian path to honour contradicts the standard of the world. Humility is a fundamental basement of the Christian life of virtue. May God bless our sincere and humble efforts; Amen.
The attitudes of the co-guests of Jesus at the house of one of the Pharisees in the Gospel Reading (Luke 14:1, 7-14), give us a hint of the world’s approach and mindset towards honour and recognition. This worldly mindset is often marked by abuse of power, intimidation, adulation of material possessions, misrepresentation and misunderstanding of social status or position, subjugation and the wicked exploitation of others. These attitudes are totally contradictory to the proper Christian path to honour and recognition which Jesus took the opportunity to teach in very simple words; “when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there… everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.” It takes humility to be great in the sight of God and in the sight of men and women of goodwill. Humility is a central Christian virtue that prepares us to truly live the Christian Life and to cultivate the other Christian Virtues. In line with this, many Christian Spiritual writers and giants considered humility as the Mother of all virtues in the sense that without humility, it is impossible to speak of or aim at possessing the other virtues. Likewise, without humility, it is impossible to fruitfully practice the values of the Christian Vocation. The word humility is etymologically related to the Latin word humus which means earth. This indicates the foundational and fundamental nature of this virtue in relation to all we do as human beings and as sons and daughters of God. Humility makes us recognise and grow steadily conscious of our origin and of our goal in life. It makes us better humans, true friends, honest family members, sincere and committed spouses, godly and humane Priests and Religious, and amiable colleagues in our respective places of work. Humility is one of the basic marks of one who has truly encountered God.
One of the greatest errors of some modern interpretations and false teachings about this most important virtue is manifest in the tendency to consider humility as the Christian refrain for low self esteem. This is grossly unfounded and false because humility is borne out of true and undiluted self-knowledge and acceptance that disposes one to make an integral self-development and to build a profound relationship with God and with fellow human beings. The truth remains that there is basically no God-willed human endeavour that has never flourished when pursued through a path that is ornamented with the virtue of humility. Humility makes us flourish and to grow Christ-like in line with Christ’s kenotic and salvific example (Phil 2:1-11). Humility makes us acceptable to God as we heard in the First Reading (Ecclesiasticus 3:19-21, 30-31); “God accepts the homage of the humble.” The affirmation of God’s acceptance of the homage of the humble is because of the radical openness of the humble to God and of the natural readiness of the humble of heart to walk the path of God; and also the recognition and profession his or her nothingness without God’s grace and presence. Hence, the Christian Spiritual Life, prayers, praises and worship are pleasing to God when they flow from very simple and humble hearts. Only the humble of heart is free and light enough to ascend the place where God dwells and to recognise the presence of God in His holy place. Only the humble of heart can withstand the presence of God and be nourished therein. The virtue of humility is one of the common virtues among the saints; the virtue that effects our admittance to God’s presence in eternity represented in the lines of the Second Reading (Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24); “you have come to God Himself, the Supreme Judge, and have been placed with spirits of the saints who have been made perfect.” It is impossible to make progress in the path of perfection without humility because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
Lord Jesus Christ, You remain the ultimate model of humility through the example of your earthly life. Grant us the grace to be humble in all our endeavours so as to be most pleasing to God our heavenly Father; Amen. Happy Sunday;