…whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Humility runs contrary to our current culture of self-aggrandizement. “American Idol” is just one expression of the media-driven climate that pervades our daily life. This is not to say that I have anything against a talent show. We even had a young man from our local community make it high into the competition recently. He has an extraordinary voice and deserved to be there. He also has a great story that shows God’s blessing on his life. But the word “Idol” betrays a danger that exists in today’s world. Do we idolize people for their talents or social status?
We must work against the pride apparent in our society and even in our Church. Pride has no place here. St. Benedict writes about the need for humility in his Rule:
The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. This is the virtue of those who hold nothing dearer to them than Christ; who, because of the holy service they have professed, and the fear of hell, and the glory of life everlasting, as soon as anything has been ordered by the Superior, receive it as a divine command and cannot suffer any delay in executing it. Of these the Lord says, "As soon as he heard, he obeyed Me" (Ps. 17:45). And again to teachers He says, "He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16).
Remember Philippians 2, “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” Let us pursue this great virtue of humility. It conquers all sin.
Part III – Archbishop Sartain’s Homily at the Red Mass in Washington, D.C.
Try as I might to wrap my mind and heart around the image that Jesus presents in the gospel passage we have just heard, I am always utterly astounded and speechless when I picture it:
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them (Luke 12:37).
The Lord Jesus, having left us “in charge” until his return, will himself return – but still a servant, ever a servant, with perfect love and unimaginable humility – and will serve us at table. It could not be otherwise for the One who “came to serve” and to “give his life as a ransom.” Likewise, it cannot be otherwise for us who are his disciples. St. Augustine writes,
...the Christ who is preached throughout the world is not Christ adorned with an earthly crown, nor Christ rich in earthly treasures, but Christ crucified... Thus, at length, the pride of this world was convinced that, even among the things of this world, there is nothing more powerful than the humility of God (see Epistle 232:5, 6).
In the end, it is in our relationship with the Lord that we find the spiritual health that reveals and makes possible true balance, true integrity. We are speaking here not of a formula, and certainly not of self-improvement: we are speaking instead of lives lived in God, for others. It is God who created us who makes us complete, and it is a life lived in humble union with the servant-Savior that literally does the most good.
A sound soul in a sound body makes for a balanced life, a life of integrity. And such sound, integrally healthy lives given to public service lift up and transform society. And consciously committed lives of discipleship reveal the living, saving presence of the humble Savior who gives himself as food to those who are his own. It is his love, his sacrifice which sets the standard for every life of humble service – and thus it is a living relationship with him that integrates our lives and makes them truly healthy. That is what we call holiness.
My sisters and brothers, we who are here this day know that it is from God that we come and toward God that we are headed. Each of us, according to the calling given us, has been put “in charge” of the Lord’s vineyard. The vineyard is his, we are his, and those we serve are his. And we pray that we will be humble servants like him, who seek to do only his good. It is that for which we were made – and it is that for which we are sent into the world. Amen.
Movie Recommendation: “Courageous”
I was privileged to join a parishioner and his son this last week in watching the movie, “Courageous”, which is about four policemen grappling with their roles as fathers and men. It was powerfully presented and quite convicting for someone in the role as father. I couldn’t help but want all men to see this movie, including all priests and seminarians training to be spiritual fathers. The movie calls us men to take responsibility for protecting and serving the women and children around us. It calls men to hold other men accountable to one another for this vocation. I hope you can attend a showing. I viewed it at the Landing in Renton. May God bless all fathers with a renewed vision for their role and the courage to carry it out.
- ▼ October (4)