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Homily for twenty-second Sunday C

26 Aug 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

HumilityAs a little boy, I heard my father advised my elder sister to be mindful of those who want to be her friends immediately she arrives in a new place. He said those early friendship seekers, in most cases, only want to get what they want from you before you discover who they really are. That was the advice I overheard but has been of great help to me. That is how strong and powerful advice from parents can be, don’t ignore them.

In our first reading this morning, we hear another wonderful advice from our father in faith, life-transforming advice if upheld. He says; My son, be gentle in carrying out your business, and you will be better loved than a lavish giver. The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly, and then you will find favor with the Lord; for great though the power of the Lord is, he accepts the homage of the humble. In other words, humility is the key to favor; it prizes higher and above material wealth and wins you love. No wonder the Blessed Virgin Mary said God pulled down the proud and raised the humble.

Humility as a virtue has become like a scarce commodity in our world; it is one of the most disregarded virtues in modern society, it is considered out of fashion today. He who decides to be humble, be calm and show mercy is seen as a weakling, a fearful person, a loser, and a person of no “lever,” as we call it today. Violence and pride have become the symbols of strength. The violent is considered today the strong and powerful, the born rulers and the celebrated. But the word of God says to you and me this morning that the greater we become, the humbler we should behave.

In our gospel passage for today, Jesus had gone for a meal in the house of one of the leading Pharisees, and there he noticed how the guests picked places of honor. It served as an opportunity for him to teach the greatness of humility, so he taught the guest and all of us to learn not to take the places of honor in a gathering because a more distinguished person may have been invited. Otherwise, the host may be forced to demote us for the more distinguished guest, and everyone would have seen us dishonored. But when you take the lowest place, and the host takes you to a higher place, everyone would see you honored. He also had a message for the host and all of us because we are all potential hosts; we must learn not to give only to those from whom we expect a reward and those who cannot repay us. That is humility in faith.

Humility is not a call to foolishness; it is not a call to denial of truth. Jesus humbled himself but did not deny the fact that he is the Son of God, neither did he deny that before Abraham He was. The call to a life of humility is not a call to deny who we are and what we are; who we are and what we are is by the grace of God. Humility is a call to surrender to the power of God, to acknowledge him as the all-holy and the source of all we have and are. St. Paul asked in 1Cor. 4:7, For who sees anything different in you? What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? Humility is accepting that God owns our lives and everything we think we have, so we have nothing to brag about apart from the Lord’s power.

The direct opposite of humility is pride. The word ‘proud’ is mostly used in the affirmative; I am so proud of my faith, so proud of my Church, and so on. These are lovely things to say, but pride in its negativity creeps in and gradually destroys many things in our lives. Pride can blind us to the power of God at work in our lives and the Church; that is what we see in our gospel passage today. The guest was proud in choosing places of honor; it was all about themselves and their glory. The spirit of pride so blinded them that they were unable to recognize the presence of God in their midst; Jesus, a more distinguished guest. That is what pride does to us; it fills us with ourselves to a level that God finds no place in us. Pride blinds us to our weaknesses and makes us swell with empty powers that cannot guaranty our future; it makes us look down on others and closes the door of favor against us. Pride destroys relationships with man and God and makes us live in a world of dreams; it makes us pretend to be what we are not.

The Lord hates pride; he calls us to a life of humility today, to humble ourselves in others to be lifted in the spirit. To relate not only with those we hope to get but also with those who hope to get from us.