Lk 14:7-14 Someone Greater Than I
Humility is the nuclear bomb of the Christian: It destroys all enemies. Actually, humility disarms, it calms and it redeems. Why is humility so powerful? Because it is the truth – the practical recognition of what we really are in the sight of God and of our neighbor. We are sinners and yet we consider ourselves more worthy of love, recognition and gifts than our neighbor. We constantly look at ourselves as victims rather than as abusers. We readily find the faults in others and turn a blind eye to our own. We can easily follow a double standard of conduct: one for me and a more rigid, more demanding, one for the other. If we find ourselves the victim of gossip, we can easily forget the moments we participated in it. The list could go on and on and on.
The Lord made it perfectly clear: Humility is absolutely necessary for entry into the Kingdom of Heaven, the wedding banquet, the eternal feast. Either I can attempt to take the seat in the front or I can voluntarily take the one in the back. What a great analogy to a personal truth: Either I end up worshiping God or I end up worshiping myself!
“My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts!” Just recently, I discovered that an employee of the Church and school comes once a week into the rectory to clean my living quarters. She does an amazing job. I never knew this was happening because she would come in when I was gone, put everything back in its proper place and wash everything thoroughly - even my sneakers! She is a humble woman and does not seek any type of recognition. Although she is paid by the Church, she goes well beyond the call of duty. She is an employee that everyone would love to have. I thought she deserved some extra compensation. I thought, “I will leave her an envelope with a small token of my appreciation.” Then immediately, from the darkest corner of my imagination, another thought came, “Maybe she will mention this at my canonization!!!” What a fool I am! What a way to destroy an honest gift of love! How our imagination can run wild and free without the filter of humility! “Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” The gift will have to wait until I can purify my intention. Humility works both ways: for the "Giver" as well as the "Receiver". In many ways, this is the painful reality of sin; so many gifts the Lord wishes to shower on us if we could only accept them or receive them as totally unmerited.
Have I come to realize and to believe that the greatest virtue is humility - the acknowledgement that there is someone greater than I? Humility opens my heart, my mind and my will to the Great One, who humbled himself. The baby Jesus cried because we had lost heaven. For a moment, the poorest baby was richer than He, and He wanted it like that!
Humility of Heart, Mind and Will will lead me to the greatest Lover, the greatest Truth and the greatest Freedom. It is the key, the bomb, the secret that opens the gates to Heaven. The greatest threat to all of this is, of course, a prideful soul. God and a prideful soul are like oil and water, they simply do not mix! I believe Padre Pio once said, “The greatest grace God can give to such a [prideful] soul is to send them a trial they cannot bear with their own powers, and then sustain them with his grace so they may endure to the end and be saved.”
Let us ask the Lord for the grace of humility, for the love of God and for our neighbors. Humility is the root of the tree and gentleness is its fruit. We please God by humility and our neighbor by gentleness.