Humility: A Compulsory Path to Salvation!
Readings: (1st: Ecc 3, 17-20. 28-29; Ps: 64, 4-11; 2nd: Heb 12, 18-24; Gos: Lk 14, 1. 7-14)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Phone: +23408063767512, +23408024942843
Today, the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year C), the Church turns our attention to this very important virtue which characterized the whole life of our Master and Lord Jesus Christ: “Who, being in very nature of God…humbled Himself…” (Phil 2, 6-8). This virtue is HUMILITY, which is the compulsory path that every true Christian must walk in order to be qualified to join the millions of Angels and Saints in Mount Zion the heavenly city of our Living God. It is an attribute and quality of God, the Saints and Angels which all children of God must strive to possess and live. We are therefore enjoined this Sunday not only to reflect deeply on humility, but also to imitate the humility of Jesus Christ our Lord, the mediator of the new covenant. It is a call to make this virtue that bears witness to the truth the basis and standard of our Christian life and journey towards our final destination which is the city of our Living God.
During a certain fund raising ceremony, Nwaganga entered the scene with lots of accolades, show off, and flamboyancy. On his arrival, his friends and entourage started hailing him. His presence caused so much distractions that people were wondering who he was. Meanwhile, there was a middle aged man who sat calmly watching what was going on. When it was time to make donations, Nwaganga was handed the microphone to speak and make his donation. When he took the microphone, the first thing that betrayed his emptiness was his grammar. He spoke thus: “I have came here today to let you people know that I has arrived.” Immediately the audience went agog with laughter and some of his colleagues buried their heads in shame. Since he was not aware of his emptiness, he continued releasing more and more devastating grammatical missiles. Next, murmuring started and people started yelling at him: “Please make your donation! Please make your donation!! Make your donation and spare us more of this shelling of yours!!! Thinking he was the richest in the gathering, he made a pledge of Fifty Thousand Naira. When all others have made their donations, the unsung middle aged man walked up the stage, and requested to be given the microphone. When it was given to him, he spoke just a few words in well polished, simple and impeccable English, and announced a donation of one million naira and behold the entire audience gave him a very resounding standing ovation. He handed in his check and off he went. Out of shame Nwaganga took his leave quietly, and nobody knew or took note of his exit from the gathering. Foolish Nwaganga neglected the admonition of Paul: “Do nothing out of selfishness, but in humility. Consider others better than yourself (Phil 2, 3).
In the first reading the Preacher gives us the key to a successful relationship and harmony with both God and humanity: “Behave humbly and you will find favour with the Lord.” This is absolutely right and we must take it to heart here that favour with humanity is implied also. It is also right because this virtue is a core and basic element of our Christian life, because God made-man, Jesus Christ whom we are called to imitate allowed Himself to be born in a manger. This reading also brings to light the fact that humility is a sign of maturity, which consequently, leads to simplicity and gentleness of life. Pride the opposite of humility, which they say go before a fall, the Preacher tells us is a disease and malady. The only therapeutic approach to this malady is imitating the humility of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The second reading therefore reminds us of the fact that our destination and abode is the place of the Living God – the Heavenly Mount Zion! In this city, only those who humble themselves like the Million of Angels and Saints will partake in its joys. The proud hearted cannot subsist in this Holy Place. Hence the Psalmist asks: “Lord who may dwell in your sanctuary, who may live on your holy hill? (Ps 1, 1). Certainly, the proud cannot because, the God in whose presence we shall dwell humbled Himself first and so, everyone who must dwell there must be humble too. Furthermore, in this city “everyone is first born and a true citizen.” But what will qualify one for this exalted position is this golden virtue of humility. This is because without it, one like Lucifer, who wished to exalt himself above his Creator, would not be able to worship God, not to talk of submitting to His will.
The gospel takes us to the echelon of today’s good news. In it, Jesus himself our role model of humility summarizes thus: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus teaches us simplicity of life, that optima medicina temperantia est (moderation is the best medicine), and that it is God himself who exalts the lowly. In this regard we need to borrow much leave from the Blessed Virgin Mary who humbled herself so much in spite of being the Theotokos (Mother of God). In her Magnificate she simply stated: “My soul glorifies the Lord …, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant… he has brought down rulers from their thrones and has lifted up the humble” (Lk 1, 47. 59). There is little therefore to wonder about as to how and why our Lord is humble. The reason is simple, he had humble parents and learnt it from them, because fire they say begets fire and, snake never gives birth to any short offspring. In like manner, we have a humble saviour and must also learn from Him if we must be where he is.
There is nothing to lose being humble. It is a win-win game, and indeed, a clean sheet win. On the contrary, pride profits nothing but shame and disgrace because, “ex frixis ovis pullus numquam venit ullus (from fried eggs no chick ever comes),” and as Jesus tells us today, “…whoever exalts himself will be brought down.” Any spiritual life that does not have humility as it foundation will definitely be an empty one. Humility is very important for a Christian’s salvation and indeed for shear sanity. “Humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge ‘we do not know how to pray as we ought’, are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. Man is a beggar before God” (CCC 2559). Prayer is the task of all of us just like it is that of the millions of Saints and the Angels who humbly and constantly remain in the presence of God worshiping him in the heavenly city – Mount Zion! We cannot do well or get there unless we learn to live this golden virtue of humility.
Peace be with you all!