4th Sunday Ordinary “A”
“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the Lord, who do His commands; seek righteousness, seek humility”, the prophet Zephaniah urges us in the first reading.
In the second reading, St. Paul tell us that “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.
God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing, things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.”
In the beatitudes Jesus confirms this view of things, which is so opposed to the world’s view of things.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven…. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”.
Listening to all this, it is easy for us to see that humility seems to be our Lord’s favorite virtue.
First of all, His Incarnation, the fact that God became man, was the most sublime act of humility ever.
It seems that His mission as our Redeemer was precisely to save us from the opposite of humility namely, our pride.
Pride, the original sin, by which our first parents decided that they could get along just find without God.
It was pride that caused the fall.
St Thomas Aquinas once said that humility is seeing ourselves as God sees us, knowing that every good we have, comes from Him as pure gift, that we depend on God for absolutely everything.
The reason that God is so great a lover of humility is because He is a great lover of the Truth.
Humility is nothing but truth, whereas pride is nothing but a lie - When we think that we can achieve or merit our own redemption, when we think that salvation depends upon us.
We are not defined by what we do, how much we earn, or what we achieve but by who we are.
We are usually closest to God when we are weakest, emptiest and lowest.
We are full of pride when our thoughts are filled with our personal rights, when we refuse to ask for help, when we think we have to understand everything in order to believe or give our allegiance.
When we think that God owes us an explanation and that our brains are fully capable of understanding all that there is to know about everything.
In the Beatitudes Jesus gives us some demanding ideals, which reverses the world’s values of things and is addressed to all and everyone who would be His disciples.
It’s all about poverty of spirit. Those who do not rely on the world are free to entrust themselves and everything to God.
This sounds like foolishness but St. Paul insists that the Gospel message opposes human wisdom. We cannot be proud of our own accomplishments. Our only boast is God’s love.
Two of the most important lessons in life are:
1. that there is a God
2. that I am not God
To be human is to acknowledge that we are not God but rather from God, that we are wholly dependent upon God and are to obey Him.
God places the humble and lowly among the people to show how we are to seek refuge in the Lord, how we are to be a remnant of those who believe in God, how we are to do no wrong and utter no lies, nor have a deceitful tongue.
God promises to the humble that they will pasture and lie down and no one shall make them afraid, the Lord is their shepherd and they are His sheep.
My dear friends, as we prepare ourselves to enter into the Lenten Season let us take the advice of the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen who gives us 4 steps we can take on our way to true humility, true poverty of spirit.
The first is prayer. Only the humble can pray, because prayer presumes that we need someone and something.
Second, regular and sincere confession in the sacrament of reconciliation.
Third, letting ourselves be open to criticism.
Fourth, a knowledge of ourselves so that with the help of God’s grace we never place ourselves in situations that we know can lead us to sin.
In conclusion let us listen to part of the Litany of Humility written by Raphael Cardinal Val and make it our Lenten prayer –
That others may be loved more that I, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be more esteemed that I, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, that others may be chosen and I – set aside, that others may be praised and I – unnoticed.
That others may be preferred to me in everything.
That others may become holier that I, provided that I become as holy as I should, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
Our Lady of Humility, pray for us.