Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Humility
Whenever I find this subject being considered, I think of that well-known Australian ballad - ‚‚ " It's hard to be humble, when you are perfect in every way"!!! Joking aside, our Christian response requires the virtue of humility to be present, and the first and third readings today emphasize this need.

Ecclesiasticus 3:17-18,20,28-29 - In these lines, the author highlights the need for gentleness and humility in dealing with people. In so doing, one opens oneself to wisdom, an opportunity frequently lost to the proud.

Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24 - In his efforts to comfort and strengthen the early Christian community, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews assures them that in converting from the ancient Jewish tradition to the New Covenant taught by Christ, they have chosen well despite the opposition they have encountered.

Luke 14:1, 7-14 - The advice given by Christ in this reading runs counter to our natural inclinations which lead us to believe that wealth and status are really what success is about.

Point 1: - Before Pope Paul V1 introduced changes to the liturgy employed for the enthronement of a newly appointed Pope, during the triumphal procession in which the new Pope was carried on a portable throne into St. Peter's Basilica, a halt was called three times, and an attendant would ignite a pile of flax which immediately flared up and burnt out quickly; at the same time the words "so passes the glory of the world" were announced. This was to remind the new Pope not to be too carried away by all the pomp and ceremony! We live in a world in which "status" is a key word. Rank is of the essence. So frequently, quality is replaced by ballyhoo to achieve success. Classical examples of this are publicity agents who regularly create overnight success for people with very ordinary talents. The spectacle of a celebrity who is modest is virtually a contradiction.

Point 2: However, when we speak of Christian humility, we are not talking about short-changing ourselves or being downtrodden. Christian humility is not self-contempt; it is seeing oneself in true perspective in relation to God and to other people. Christian humility has its origins in gratitude - gratitude for the gift of life and the talents one has been endowed with, and which are used in such a way that life becomes an enriched experience not only for the individual, but for those with whom we associate. The great American orator and patriot, Daniel Webster, was once asked -"What is the greatest thought that had entered his mind" - and he replied "personal accountability to God for His gifts".

Conclusion: Such an answer brings us to the kernel of Christian humility. We are expected to be productive, but never forget that the talents we employ in pursuit of productivity are God given. And due acknowledgement should be made by us for these gifts. Material success is a desirable goal, but only when it makes me a happy and a complete person. The final measure of our "success" is where we stand before God. This is the ultimate assessment that counts. [Luke 9:25] What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?

Scriptural reference: [Prov 29:23] A person's pride will bring humiliation, but one who is lowly in spirit will obtain honour.