Sunday Breakfast With the Word 22nd Sunday Ordinary Time of the Year C
Ecclesiasticus 3:19-21,30-31, Hebrews 12:18-19,22-24, Luke 14:1,7-14
The Power of Humility
Whenever we hear the word “humility” what normally comes to mind is a word that signals weakness, cowardice, and fragility. It looks somehow funny when someone wants to talk about the power of humility.
In our world today, people see humble people as people they can easily intimidate, manipulate and use to achieve their selfish intentions and desires. Someone once told me that humility is a funny thing to talk about.
Hence, humility as we know is a very powerful virtue. When we go through the scriptures we shall discover that almost the people that God worked with are very humble to earth. When we humble ourselves, there is always an opportunity for exaltation.
Also when we look at most of the miracles done by Jesus, we shall discover that the virtue that preceded almost all is the virtue of humility. It is humility that led to the healing of the servant of the centurion in Luke 7:1-10.
It is humility that led Peter to throw his net in the sea after struggling all through the night to catch fish but could not. Despite that he was a professional in fishing, he humbled himself to obey Jesus and hence got a great catch.
It is also humility that inspired the Blessed Virgin Mary to accept the message of the angel Gabriel, forgoing all her plans and destinies in life to choose what God prepared for her. The virtue of humility began the journey of salvation.
Also, it is humility that Jesus allows Himself to be crucified on the cross, despite that He is God. Humility is neglected but humility is a great virtue. In essence, where humility leads, there is always a fruitful outcome.
Humility: the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people: the quality or state of being humble.
Humility is the act of bringing ourselves down for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
Therefore, Humility does not look at how much we acquire. It does not look at what we have and the position we have undergone. Humility looks at the salvation of others, it seeks that others would be saved and touched first.
Humility also seeks the glory of God. It puts God first before us. When we humble ourselves for God’s sake and the sake of the salvation of souls and others, great things do happen.
A person who lacks humility will do anything to get honour and promotion. But a humble man will always be recognised and promoted. Such is the power of humility.
Humility is the opposite of aggression, arrogance, pride, and vanity. It may appear to empty us of all power. But on the contrary, it grants enormous power to us.
Humility gives us complete freedom from the desire to impress, and the opportunity to grow, and improve, results in contentment, patience, forgiveness, and compassion. Such is the power of humility.
Being humble is the best quality a person can achieve.
The Favour that Comes through Humility.
The first reading which comes from the book of Ecclesiasticus presents humility as a powerful virtue that brings favour to us.
According to the author, Humility makes one be loved and cherished by people.
He says “My son, be gentle in carrying out your business, and you will be better loved than a lavish giver.” He makes a comparison between a giver and a humble man.
1. According to the author, the humble man is easily loved more than a cheerful giver.
In 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, Paul says that God loves a cheerful giver, and here the author of the first reading affirms that though the giver is loved, the humble man is mostly loved.
In essence, one of the favours that come through the gift of humility is love. The giver may not be humble but the humble person easily gives whatever he or she has for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
2. When a man humbles himself before God, He will always lift him (James 4:10).
The author of the first reading affirms this when He says that the more we behave humbly, before God, the easier to find favour with the Lord. Humility opens the doors of graces.
3. Humility is a virtue that is cherished by God and men. A humble man is always accepted anywhere. Humility attracts more grace. Sometimes, pride closes the door to spiritual growth, but humility does otherwise. To the humble, God gives great gifts, peace, grace, and gentleness.
Therefore, the fruit of the Spirit grows in the soil of humility. This is affirmed in the first letter of Saint Peter. The letter exhorts that we have to clothe ourselves with humility toward one another, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
The first reading affirms this when it says that though great is the power of the Lord, He always accepts the homage of the humble.
But there is no cure for the proud man’s malady since an evil growth has taken root in him. Pride will always lead one into trouble.
Jesus’ Act of Humility.
The gospel today gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees and how he uses this encounter to express his humility and stresses the power and importance of humility.
1. On one of the sabbath days, Jesus went for a meal at the house of one of the leading Pharisees. While Jesus was still at the table, the Pharisees began to watch him closely.
This is the first act of humility from Jesus and an exemplary attitude from Him.
Despite His status, Jesus brought himself very low to eat with them at the same table. The guests pharisees were watching Jesus closely. They did this in Luke 6:7 and Mark 3:2. They did to see if Jesus would heal on that sabbath day.
The reason is that, in that same house of the Pharisees, a man was suffering from abnormal swelling of his body.
Then, Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” They remained silent. He healed the man immediately and sent him on his way.
Also despite that most of the time, Jesus rebukes and berates the Pharisees for their way of life, yet when he was invited for dinner, He welcomed the invitation. This is an act of love from Jesus.
Humility goes with love. Whoever is humble, easily lives in love. When we live in humility, we will always be eager to save lives as Jesus did.
Also, when we live in humility, we will always live our lives for the sake of others. When we live in humility also, we will always live in love.
Wherever a humble man lives, there is peace, there is love and there is tolerance and understanding. The power of humility is undebatable.
The Parable and the Power of Humility.
During this visit, Jesus watches closely how the Pharisees were scrambling for places of honour at the table. It could also be that they also occupied all the places leaving no place for Jesus.
He then advised them, which Luke sees as a parable. Jesus tells them that ‘when someone invites them to a wedding feast, they should not scramble the places of honour.
The reason is that a more distinguished person may have been invited, and the person who invited them both may come and require them to give up the place to the man.
Jesus advises them to always go to the lowest place and sit there, so that, when the host comes, he may give them the higher palace reserved for them. This will lead to honour.
Therefore, Jesus reveals that humility leads to honour. When one humbles himself, he will be exalted and anyone who exalts himself will be humbled. The power of humility lies in the fact that it leads to exaltation.
We are Guests.
The first point we have to raise in this analysis is that all the Pharisees who are scrambling for the position of honour are all guests. None of them is the owner of the house.
None of them is the host. Rather, they are all guests scrambling for the position of authority and honour. Therefore, in the same way, we have to understand that we are all guests in this world.
The Igbo man will say “anyi biara abia”. And just as any guest will surely leave the occasion, is the same way we shall leave the world one day.
To understand this is to understand life. Sometimes we forget this and think we have a lot of years to stay in the world. Hence, life takes us unawares.
When we understand how limited our lives are, we shall one day understand that what we struggle to acquire in this life is vanity upon vanity.
Scrambling of Places.
In the gospel, the guests scrambled for seats closest to the host because greater honour was awarded to those who could claim they reclined close to a wealthy or prominent
person. This is what also happened today.
Sometimes, we forget that we are just mere guests, but we scramble and even kill because of earthly positions and power.
As the Pharisees are guests but killing themselves for something they do not have, is the same way we are fighting ourselves. Today, many families are not at peace.
Many people have turned back against those who helped them and some others are scrambling for earthly possessions and material acquisitions. The things that we scramble for, we came to the world and meet them. We shall also leave them behind.
Today, many people scheme and manoeuvre for places of honour. This has led to many misunderstandings, disagreements and divisions among us today.
Sometimes these things that we kill ourselves to have, we will one day leave to go to the world beyond. Therefore, Jesus teaches that humility is a better way to gain such honour. It is not by the scrambling of places and earthly positions.
Humility Before Honour.
In the gospel, Jesus says to them “when someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take your seat in the place of honour. A more distinguished person than you may have been invited, and the person who invited you both may come and say, “Give up your place to this man.” And then, to your embarrassment, you would have to go and take the lowest place. No; when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there, so that, when your host comes, he may say, “My friend, move up higher.” In that way, everyone with you at the table will see you honoured.
1. The first point we have to derive from this statement is that seeking positions of honour should not be our priority in life. When we have this as our sole motivation, there will always be scrambling. This is what leads to misunderstanding.
When every person wants to rule, there will always be divisions and misunderstandings among them. Humility is precious, it is the only key that brings us together despite what we have.
2. The second point here is that the places of honour are given. We do not fight or kill ourselves for it. One day it will surely come to us.
Ours is to work hard and live our normal lives. Jesus advises in the gospel, that it is the host that will tell the guest to move to the higher positions.
We have to keep working hard, doing our things and focusing on our talents, services and calls. One day, we shall reap the reward. We live everything in the hands of God.
3. The third point we have to derive from this statement is that there is humility before honour. Humility paves way for something honourable to happen. We have to keep ourselves humble first.
According to Tia Parker “Humility and Honour are siblings. They share little to no resemblance. Many people don’t believe they are of any relation.The truth is Honour would not be as awesome as she is without her big brother Humility. Honour gets most of the recognition but Humility does all of the work. Humility taught Honour all she knows, Honour would not be alive and breathing if Humility had not saved her from falling prey to pride”.
Therefore, it is humility that leads to recognition. Humility leads to honour and humility brings open doors of blessings that we never expected.
It is humility that brings families together. Humility brings a lot of blessings. If humility can lead to honour, then it is also the secret of promotion.
Jesus says that anyone who humbles himself shall be exalted. Therefore, humility is underrated but it is the secret to greatness.
Remember what Jesus says in Matthew 23:11–12
“The greatest among you must be a servant, but those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’
Practical Examples of Humility.
Humility comes from the word humus (earth), it describes the act of bringing ourselves down despite our self-worth.
It has nothing to do with cowardness. Humility is not weakness. self-pity, self-hatred, poverty, wearing shoddy clothing, low self-esteem and over-submissiveness.
Humility is a spiritual gift that comes from understanding ourselves in the place of things. It entails not taking our desires, successes, or possessions as if they are gods. It is not looking down on ourselves and seeing others as nothing.
1. Humility is serving others wholeheartedly and not because of what to gain. It is when we dedicate our lives, energies and time to serve. It is also when we tirelessly work to improve the living conditions for other people, not minding our status.
2. It is when we remain modest and unpretentious about our astounding achievements and never tie them to our personalities. It is when we decide not to serve our egos, but instead a greater external cause.
3. Humility is when we give up our privileges to serve those who have less. For example, Mother Teresa dedicated her life to ministering to the poorest people in Calcutta. She saw their needs as just as important as hers, and she chose to live at their level to help them. This is humility.
4. Humility is when we do our work for the sake of God and the salvation of souls. It is when we do an awesome job, though we may not always get the credit but does not stop us from doing what we are supposed to do.
5. Humility is serving people who are not aware of your worth, hence you are doing a great job anyway. It is when people do not praise or acknowledge what you do, yet you do your work with all your hearts, knowing that in all things God takes the glory.
6. Humility is going back to the people you have wronged and apologising to them.
7. Humility is owning up to our mistakes and not making fun of them.
8. Humility Is when we give God glory despite how we have worked hard to be where we are. Humility is giving God the place of honour in everything you have achieved as a human being.
1. We have also to know that Pride is the opposite of Humility. Therefore, If humility brings honour then Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18).
A humble man thinks low of himself but a proud man thinks highly of himself than he ought to think (Romans 12:3). A proud man always thinks that he is better than others, He is always right. But the humble man acknowledges his mistakes and promises to make amends.
Pride leads to Stubbornness and rebellion (1 Samuel 15:22-23). It leads to prayerlessness and lack of seeking God (Psalm 10:4). Pride eventually brings shame (Proverbs 11:2; 29:23) and God God personally resists the proud (James 4:6; Leviticus 26:23-24). Therefore, we have to embrace the power of humility.
2. Jesus says to the people who are invited to the banquet, “…For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted”
Hence, Jesus emphasises the power of humility. It means that the virtue of humility will take you to higher places of honour. . Being humble doesn’t mean you think less of yourself but it means you think of yourself less and more to others.
3. In the gospel, Jesus says to the host ‘When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not ask your friends, brothers, relations or rich neighbours, for fear they repay your courtesy by inviting you in return. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; that they cannot pay you back means that you are fortunate because repayment will be made to you when the virtuous rise again”.
In essence, Jesus asks that we help those in need and the people in the need of help. This brings eternal rewards. Therefore, we have to serve and offer ourselves to others.
We have to be humble, and lower ourselves for the poor, without asking for anything in return. We have to help and serve the needy, the crippled, the poor and the like. Such types of work do not go empty-handed.
4. In the gospel, when Jesus asks us to first take the lowly places, Jesus reminds us of the shame that often comes with self-exaltation.
It is good to be humble and allow God to lift us. Therefore, we should not play the self-promotion game. For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor the south, but God is the Judge: He puts down one and exalts another (Psalm 75:6-7) What to do is to take a lower place and let God move us up.
5. When Jesus asks us to feed the poor and the crippled, Jesus is asking us not to associate with people only based on what they could do for us.
There is something wonderful in giving a gift that people can never repay us back. These are some of the more blessings Jesus spoke of when He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
This kind of living will cost us something, yet we will be repaid with the full repayment coming in eternity.
When Jesus says that there will be repayment then, it means that we will never be the loser when we save the lives of others, especially when we give without expecting anything in return.
6.The secret of greatness is humility. All the great patriachs like Abraham, Noah, Enoch, Isaac, Jacob etc were men of humility. Despise how rich they are, they did not abandon God nor assign the position of God to riches. They considered God first and God lifts them up. Such is the power of humility.
In the Old testaments, all the prophets and judges great kings like David,Jeremiah, Elijah , Isaiah, Samuel, etc were men of outstanding humility.
In the New testament, the Blessed virgin Mary, John the Baptist, our lord Jesus Christ etc are people of great humility. Therefore, the secret of greatness is humility.
May God help us to experience the power of humility.
Well done brother
Amen. Thank you Jesus.
Amen, remain blessed Fr
Oh God, grant me the Power of Humility