Sunday, September 02, 2007

22nd Sunday - homily

We hear the theme of humility in today’s 1st reading and Gospel. The book of Sirach says to “clothe yourselves with humility”. And Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that “the one who humbles himself will be exalted”. Just what is humility? We don’t hear the word humility much anymore or see too many examples in our modern world. Humility is synonymous with honesty, where the person is honest about himself and acknowledges that everything he has comes from God.

The opposite of the virtue of humility is the sin of pride. We hear much more about that and see many more examples of that in the news, especially lately. In pride, the person has a dishonest view of himself, thinking that he is better than he is and taking credit for what God has done. I’ve always found the relationship between humility and pride to be an interesting one. It can be circular – it takes humility to admit that I am proud…but, then I become proud of my humility. But, it’s humble to say that I’m proud of my humility…!

Anyway, it’s a huge point to consider whether we’re living humility or pride. Jesus makes it clear that humility is necessary for salvation. Also, Sirach 10 says that “pride is the root of all sin”. In order to better understand the difference between humility and pride in our lives, I have compiled a list of examples to show the difference between the two. If you wish to add your own examples, please do so on the blog site where I post my homily.

Let us remember what Scripture says in 1 Peter 5 and Proverbs:
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”.


The humble person is honest about him or herself, and acknowledges that everything he has is a result of God’s grace. The proud person takes credit for what God has done and thinks everything he has is a result of his efforts only.

The humble person can say, “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you”. The proud person can’t.

The humble person can admit when he’s wrong. The proud person always has to be right.

The humble person tries to reconcile and forgive past debts. The proud person holds grudges.

The person living humility is prone to patience. The person living in pride is prone to anger.

The humble person is able to receive gifts from others with gratitude. The proud person has a very hard time accepting anything good from anyone.

The humble person tries to glorify God with his life. The proud person glorifies himself.

The humble person is a team player. The proud person only cares about himself.

The person living humility tries to build up others. The person living in pride tears down others through gossip.

The person living humility has a realistic and honest view of his strengths and weaknesses. The person living in pride overestimates his strengths and underestimates his weaknesses.

The humble person lives moderation and knows his limits when it comes to controlling his desires. The proud person thinks he can handle anything, especially when it comes to things of the flesh.

The humble person imitates Christ by accepting his cross with faith, hope, and love. The proud person says, “why me?”

The Catholic living humility goes to Confession regularly, acknowledging that he is a sinner. The one living in pride thinks that he doesn’t need to go.

For the humble Christian, God is first. The proud one says “me first”.

The humble Catholic acknowledges and abides by God’s Commandments. The proud one thinks he knows better than God.

The humble Catholic acknowledges and abides by the teaching authority of the Church. The proud person thinks he knows better than the Church.

The person living humility conducts his affairs with modesty and meekness. The proud person brings attention to himself.

The humble person prays regularly, in good times and in bad. The proud person prays only when he needs something.

As Jesus says in the Gospel, the humble person will be exalted. The proud person will be humbled.

The humble person acknowledges that he needs Christ. The proud person has no need for a Savior.


Those living in humility are open to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and try to center their lives on the Eucharist. They acknowledge their lowliness before God and see themselves as among the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind who have been invited to share in this banquet. They have their eyes on the heavenly banquet where God will reward their humility with an exalted place in his Kingdom.

13 Comments:

At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The person living humility is prone to patience. The person living in pride is prone to anger."

This is a topic with which I have conflict. If someone is continually doing something (time and again) that is wrong (as scripture teaches), do you continue to exercise patience or say enough? If I become angry over another’s actions, does that mean I am not humble b/c I am unwilling to accept the actions of another that I feel go against what I believe (or am I righteous?). Patience can have the potential to indulge.

 
At 11:48 PM, Blogger fran said...

I think there are different approaches to different patience vs. anger situations.

When one is sitting in traffic and is already late for an appointment, it is better to say the rosary, then it is to scream at the top of your lungs.

When the children come home from school and they want your attention, and say "mom" a hundred times over, and homework needs to be completed and the phone is ringing, it is better to take a deep breath, and ignore the phone, then it is to lash out at your children because you are stressed.

It is far better to say, "this too shall pass," then it is to act out of anger.

Concerning times when another's actions are effecting your state of well being, remaining patient does not mean allowing yourself to be put upon, taken advantage of, or used as a door mat. (Not that you are.) It requires calmly discussing the actions of the other, which are hurting you, or removing yourself from their presence to avoid reacting out of anger.

Easier said then done, I know, but addressing the problem, or moving away from the person altogether removes the possibility of indulging the behavior, which I agree, is a legitimate concern.

 
At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is a topic with which I have conflict. If someone is continually doing something (time and again) that is wrong (as scripture teaches), do you continue to exercise patience or say enough? If I become angry over another’s actions, does that mean I am not humble b/c I am unwilling to accept the actions of another that I feel go against what I believe (or am I righteous?). Patience can have the potential to indulge."


Matt 18:21-22:

" Then Peter approaching asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy times seven times."

Unlike a famous quote from Hilary Clinton, we shouldn't be keeping a chart. As to you not being humble because you get angry, I don't know the answer to that. I do know that we must practice forgiveness, each time we say the Our Father we ask to be forgiven as we forgive. This is oft times a scary thought. I don't know about you, but I hope Christ is A LOT more forgiving of me then the forgiveness I have shown other people.

As to what Fran says about moving away from the person, I can see that if being around them is cause of a near occasion of sin, but you have to be careful that your avoidance of them isn't as a 'punishment' to them but rather as a temporary measure to gain a balance. You are still called to treat the person with Christian charity and compassion. Too many times the idea of avoiding people who harm us is taken to an extreme and to that end is sinful itself because we then act to exclude them from the body of Christ and we all know that is contrary to our mission as Christians.

 
At 12:30 PM, Blogger fran said...

7:34 Anon-
Yes, - Moving away from the hurtful actions of another, as a form of punishment is not acceptable. I would never condone that. We should always treat one another with respect,(do unto others....)as doing otherwise would indeed be sinful.
Treating another with respect and compassion, yet keeping a bit of a distance, so as to not engage in, and be brought down by the hurtful behavior is, in my opinion, the humble thing to do.
Thanks for the opportunity to clarify my thoughts. :)

 
At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is possible to forgive another's action and yet remove oneself from unacceptable behavior. It can be a slippery slope, for, as it was said, we are called upon to continue to forgive as many times as we need to, but- at the same time- we are also called to avoid the things that lead us to sin. I takes honest reflection to distinguish between whether I am avoiding sin or avoiding someone/something I just dislike. In the latter situation, I try to remind myself, that if I ask, God will give me what I need to handle those situations with charity and grace.

 
At 12:43 PM, Blogger Marianne said...

In response to anger, one must realize that the actions of another are their actions committed by their thoughts and will. I do not believe God asks us to take a person's actions personally, and analyze them, nor does he ask us to remain in dangerous situations; rather, we are asked to listen to one another, teach through our actions, pray and find the strength to love, forgive and move on. None of us will be perfect in these difficult endeavors. We will make mistakes, we will be unsure of ourselves. When in doubt, ask God for guidance, reveal your concerns and take advantage of the freedom and love offered through the sacrament of Confession. As Archbishop Tuan offeres in Testimony of Hope, Jesus too has defects. He has a terrible memory. "He not only pardons, and pardons every person, he even forgets that he has pardoned"(15). We should be so lucky!

 
At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Humility. God gives each of us gifts. I have struggled with pride versus humility. Am I prideful when I speak of the great wonders and gifts and revel in them? I am prideful if I claim them as my own? If I see the gifts as coming from myself or my own efforts than that is PRIDE. Humility always wants to NAME every good thing as a GIFT from God. Humility creates a longing, almost a burning desire to take God's gifts and use them for His glory. Humility creates a deep sense of gratitude toward God. The humble soul delights in our Lord's generosity.

Anger............the truly humble soul does experience anger. For the truly humble or meek soul, true anger is aroused only when God's principles are violated. Think of Jesus. He drove the buyers and sellers from the Temple when they prostituted God's house. Moses breaking the stone tablets of the ten commandments.

FG asked for a personal story of humility. My husband and I are currently at Mayo Clinic for an undetermined amount of time. He has a rare disorder. It was brought to our knowledge that a local specialist WILLFULLY withheld a crucial DNA test result which was needed to diagnose my husband. This disorder is 100 percent fatal if not treated quickly and appropriately.

Am I angry? Yes. I am angry because this dr. violated God's principles (not to mention the law, medical code of ethics). Yet God gives us the grace to know that we are to deal with him later, if ever. God who is a God of justice and mercy will guide us when we return home.

 
At 2:11 PM, Blogger fran said...

It is not that we feel anger or other human emotions, it is what we choose yo do with those emotions which determines if they are acts of pride or humility.

"Merciful and gracious is sthe Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness." Psalm 103:8

 
At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Marion said...

I am reading this thread with especial interest, because issues of anger, boundaries, trust, respect, forgiveness within families have been a huge problem in my family-of-origin.

I watched a relative all her life live as the proverbial "doormat." She insisted that she was living "Christian forgiveness", but to me it looked like she was simply catering to the demands - however unreasonable - of the loudest and most aggressive family members, and also that she was failing to take care of her own needs - physically, financially, emotionally - by never setting limits on what she would accept from others in the way of bad treatment, contempt, insults, etc.

It's been nothing but disaster for the whole family, and heart-breaking to watch.

I think also of Matthew 18:17, which reads:

"If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector."

And the way to a Gentile or tax collector, I gather, is polite but kept at arm's length. Having as little to do with as possible.

It was explained to me once that such persons, if they should decide to take concrete steps to correct their destructive behavior, will understand that they will then be welcomed back.

Anyway, I have a lot of trouble with enabling abusers masqerading as "forgiveness" and "forebearance".

 
At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It was explained to me once that such persons, if they should decide to take concrete steps to correct their destructive behavior, will understand that they will then be welcomed back."

Marion, I appreciate what you say, however many times this is not the case even among the 'faithful'. Many many times, once a person has sinned against us, we never welcome them back even if they have conversion. We continually keep them at a distance out of pride, anger and fear. I speak from having done it myself and from having had it done to me.

 
At 10:52 AM, Blogger fran said...

There is a website, whose author outlines his "plan" for helping and/or dealing with individuals caught in negative lifestyles and behaviors. He uses steps that he learned as a Boy Scout, when he was earning a lifesaving merit badge. I thought it was well written and made sense. The site is www.stevepavlina.com
Prayer,(sometimes the only way to help others,) is also discussed, as an essential component in coming to one's aid.

A favorite prayer of mine is the Novena Rose Prayer to St. Therese. I love the wording, and have found St. Therese to be quite a powerful intercessor. Here it is:

My Novena Rose Prayer

"O Little Therese of the Child Jesus, please pick for me a rose from the heavenly gardens and send it to me as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus, ask God today to grant the favors I now place with confidence in your hands.......(mention specific requests)
St. Therese, help me to always believe as you did, in God's great love for me, so that I might imitate your "Little Way" each day." Amen.

 
At 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People are only human, How can we best deal with the imperfections, flaws, and sins that take place within our own lives? The operative word has to be "forgiveness." We all need to cultivate a lifestyle of forgiveness, a mind set that forgives consistently and unconditionally.

God commands us to forgive.

Forgiveness is a part of the character of God.(God forgives us unconditionally, even when we do not deserve it.)

Forgiveness is good for us. Unforgiveness can destroy us.

We forgive so that we, too, will be forgiven. We count on God's forgiveness and maybe that is the feelings of the troubled individual. Look into your own heart, why should God forgive you each and every time you are wrong. Jesus Christ take our sins and gives us His Righteousness in return.

God accepts us as we are, communicate do not be selfish, or angry allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.

 
At 9:36 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

A big part of living with humility for me is surrender. When I am not living with humility I believe that I am in control of things. When I slow down and live consciously, I understand that I’m never really in control; I am being directed. When I accept that I am powerless in many things, and surrender to God’s will, I’m at peace. It’s a funny thing, b/c so often I’ll really struggle to do something the way I want to do it. Things will come up that “thwart” my efforts and I’ll struggle even harder. At some point, when I decide to let go of “my way” and let things be the way they will be, I experience immense relief. And yet, I will repeat the process another day over another scenario. Letting go of my way isn’t easy but is totally necessary (for me) to live a healthy and happy life.

Also, trust is a big deal- it's not easy for me. I’d thought of trust as something that just existed after some undefined period of time rather than something I did. So, I’d wait for trust to appear. I let go of the concept that I had to "feel" something before I decided to trust. Withholding trust had been something I did (and still do) in many relationships- mine with God being no exception. It took a lot of stumbling and some pretty hard falls before I realized I simply had to choose to trust Him and surrender my will to His. It was a life altering choice, and one I often need to remind myself that I made.

 

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