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제목 Humility - 10th Sunday after Pentecost(2017-08-13)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2017-08-13






Humility - 10th Sunday after Pentecost(2017-08-13)


My dear brethren,


“Every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted” (Lk. 18:14). This conclusion of today’s Gospel is a truth often repeated in the holy Gospel by our Lord Himself and by the Apostles in many ways and is most important for our sanctification.


Our Lord had said the very same thing when he was invited by a Pharisee and noticed how many guests chose the first seats; He said: “When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him: and he that invited thee and him, come and say to thee, ‘Give this man place’: and then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place; that when he who invited thee, cometh, he may say to thee: ‘Friend, go up higher’. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee. Because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted” (Lk. 14:8-11).

To stress the importance of humility to his disciples, one day Our Lord took a little child and said to them: “Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3). Why? Our Lord Himself explained: “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:4).

Our Lady herself said: “He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble” (Lk. 1:52). And St James writes: “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (Jam. 4:6). And St Peter writes at length: “In like manner, ye young men, be subject to the ancients. And do you all insinuate humility one to another, for God resisteth the proud, but to the humble he giveth grace. Be you humbled therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in the time of visitation:” (1 Pet. 5:5-6). Already in the Old Testament, the psalmist sang: “For thou wilt save the humble people; but wilt bring down the eyes of the proud” (Ps. 17:28).
 
St Augustine tells us that every page in the Scripture teaches us the same truth, that God resists the proud and give His grace to the humble. Indeed, when you go through the Old Testament, you see again and again the chosen people being delivered the hands of its enemies when it is unfaithful to God by proud rebellion and being marvellously delivered when they fall on their knees and beg for mercy. Even the pagans of Niniveh obtain mercy when they repent from their sins and do penance at the predication of Jonah.

Why is it so? Because God is God, infinitely above all creation. The psalmist sings: “Who is as the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high: And looketh down on the low things in heaven and in earth?” (Ps. 112:5-6). Seen from above, the pride of men is simply ridiculous: it is like the pride of an ant which would think itself to be big! On the contrary, the great God loves the little ones: Isaiah says: “For thus saith the High and the Eminent that inhabiteth eternity: and his name is Holy, who dwelleth in the high and holy place, and with a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isa. 57:15).

God is Truth, and cannot but resist lies. Now pride is a big lie; it is the refusal to acknowledge our dependence from God. All creatures depend on the Creator: we have received our being from Him; He is the First cause of all good, including all the good of our actions. The proud man thinks he owes nothing to God, and this is a lie. Hear the Pharisee in today’s gospel: he does not even thank God for what he received from God, no, he thinks he has it of himself, which is not true. He only thanks God for having put everyone else below him, which also is not true.

Humility on the contrary lives the truth: it does acknowledge our triple dependence on God, and so opens the souls to the pouring of the grace of God, the “pouring of charity in our hearts by the Holy Ghost Who is given to us” (Rom. 5:5). We depend on God for our being, since God is the first Cause of all beings. And we would return to nothingness if God would stop conserving us in existence. We depend on God for our actions, because God is the first Mover: it is quite evident that unless He gives us health and strength, we could not even move our little finger. We should not wait to be paralysed to acknowledge it. Health is a gift of God. And the third dependence is even more complete: it is in the order of grace: all grace comes from God through the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ: “I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).

Moreover, after the sin of Adam, from whom we received a wounded nature, and our own personal sins, the humble is fully convinced of his unworthiness. If God would render unto him according to his sins, he would be in the lowest hell. So, he does not put himself above the others.

Now because the humble acknowledges that he receives so much from God, he easily acknowledges that God can give more to anyone else. If God had mercy on him, He can have mercy on anyone else. Even if today our neighbour may be in sin, tomorrow he may become a greater saint. Remember St Stephen being stoned and praying for his persecutor: St Stephen was humble, he did not put himself above his persecutors but prayed for them, and one of them, Saul, became later St Paul, probably a greater saint than St Stephen. And St Paul himself never forgot that he had been a “persecutor of the Church of God”, so he said: “I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Cor. 15:9).

Thus, the humble is not jealous of the gifts of God, but with simplicity is grateful for what he received. Note that humility itself is a gift, for which the humble is grateful. By such gratitude, the gift that came from God returns to God as glory and love: that which comes from God must return to God as glory and love. The Scripture says indeed: “The greater thou art, the more humble thyself in all things, and thou shalt find grace before God: for great is the power of God alone, and He is honoured by the humble” (Eccli. 3:20-21). And God blesses such gratitude even more: thus you have the circle of blessings, always increasing in grace from God and in glory to God.

Humility is the atmosphere of a true faithful’s life. St Paul exhorts us: “Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience:” (Col. 3:12). It is required for charity, it is required for piety and prayer, it should be found in all virtues. Thus St Paul writes about charity: “Charity is patient, is kind… is not puffed up; is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil” (1 Cor. 13:4-5). Our Lord Himself says about almsgiving: “Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven. Therefore when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites – that is, the proud – do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth, that thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee” (Mt. 6:1-4).

Humility is required for prayer: “a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 50:19). “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart: and he will save the humble of spirit” (Ps. 33:19). Thus at the time of Judith “all the people cried to the Lord with great earnestness, and they humbled their souls in fastings, and prayers” (Judith 4:8) and God granted their prayer. “He hath had regard to the prayer of the humble: and he hath not despised their petition” (Ps. 101:18). Thus humble prayers obtain forgiveness from God, as it is written: “but yet because they were humbled, the wrath of the Lord turned away from them, and they were not utterly destroyed: for even in Juda there were found good works” (2 Chr. 12:12).

Note that the Traditional Liturgy is a beautiful practical lesson of humility: we adore our Lord Jesus Christ, we kneel in front of Him, and this opens our soul to receive in abundance the grace of His presence in the Holy Eucharist. But on the contrary, to stand up and receive Him in the hand is no mark of humility and thus puts an obstacle to grace, precisely because “every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted” (Lk. 18:14)

The virtue of humility being so important, it is not surprising that Divine Providence often arranges occasions that humble us: we need that. Hence the psalmist says: “It is good for me that thou hast humbled me, that I may learn thy justifications… I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are equity: and in thy truth thou hast humbled me” (Ps. 118:71,75). Indeed “where pride is, there also shall be reproach: but where humility is, there also is wisdom” (Prov. 11:2). “It is better to be humbled with the meek, than to divide spoils with the proud” (Prov. 16:19).

Unfortunately, the ravages of pride are frightful: we see them in the modern world, especially the western world is an apostate world, that has rejected the Catholic civilisation. They pretend that they need no God; they reject His Law; they pretend to have a right to do the opposite of the Law of God, rights to abortion and all kinds of other abominations, rights to reject the Revelation and believe all kinds of fables. The very idea of submitting their mind and heart to God is abhorrent to many people today. The cry of rebellion of the devil is on so many lips: “I will not serve!” (Jer. 2:20)

And the punishment of such pride is visible today to all. St Paul already said it of the pagan Roman world: “For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools… wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Rom. 1:22,24-25) Today their god is money and success: the golden calf is an old idol, very popular today! So, St Paul continues: “For this cause, God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, Detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them” (Rom. 1:26-32). One would say that St Paul wrote this for our times. This is the consequence of pride, of prideful rebellion against God.

So, let us rather love humility and follow the examples of the Saints. Three times a day, you say the Angelus, that honours “three humilities”. First, the humility of the Angel, who, being of a superior nature, humbles himself in front of a frail human person and salutes her with devotion and respect.

Then there is the humility of our Lady, who, after Jesus was the humblest of all. St Ambrose points out this humility of our Lady in the Annunciation: she is just chosen to become the Mother of the Messiah, the Mother of God – dignity above all others, and she offers herself as the handmaid of the Lord, the little slave-girl of the Lord! “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word” (Lk. 1:38). “Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (Lk. 1:48). Certainly, precisely because she was the humblest virgin was she exalted above all saints and angels: her Assumption which we are going to celebrate the day after tomorrow is the proof of that humility, because “everyone that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted” (Lk. 18:14).

And the third humility is that of the very Son of God, who, being the Almighty, being “in the form of God” as St Paul wrote (Phil. 2:6), “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man” (Phil. 2:7). This was the Incarnation, which we celebrate in the Angelus saying “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us” (Jn. 1:14). This is a tremendous humility: He is the highest, the Almighty and becomes the smallest, a tiny foetus in the most pure womb of His holy Mother.

But He went even further. He who said: “Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls” (Mt. 11:29), He showed the example of taking his yoke first: “He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). This is truly the utmost of humility, the humility of God!

But then comes the reward: “For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that the Jesus Christ is Lord unto the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

My dear brethren, let us ask our Lord through the blessed Virgin Mary for this grace of humility and let us strive to take every occasion to practice this holy virtue that is so necessary for salvation. Amen.


Fr. F. Laisney