30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

     Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel of the Pharisee and the tax collector reminds us each of us that “without humility we cannot be pleasing to God.”[1] In fact “the thing that counts in Christianity is obedience, humility in the face of God’s word.”[2] It doesn’t matter how good or bad we have been to this point in our life, it doesn’t matter if we have been a great saint or a terrible sinner. What matters the most is that we recognize that God is on a quest for us, calling us into a relationship with Him. If we want to enter into that relationship we need the humility displayed by the tax collector in today’s Gospel. When we become like the tax collector and throw ourselves at the mercy of God He can make our hearts pure.

     A pure soul is a humble soul. When we lower and empty ourselves as the tax collector did in today’s Gospel, God’s majesty can pursue us and pour His grace into our hearts, making use of His omnipotence to exalt us.[3] If we are honest with ourselves and take a close look at our behavior, I dare say all of us will recognize some elements of the tax collector in our lives. The important thing is that we don’t give into despair. My friends, the solution to our capacity for evil is humility, the honest admission of our weakness and the willingness to throw ourselves at the feet of Christ and beg for his mercy.

     While it may be hard to believe we are only 69 days away from the New Year. Have you started thinking about what your New Year’s resolution will be? Perhaps in preparation for the New Year we could make a resolution to work on becoming more humble, between now and the New Year. When we turn on the TV or open up a magazine we can’t help but find someone trying to sell us simple 10 step paths to various things we want like a 10 step path to happiness or a 10 step path to healthy living etc. and so today I want to leave you with a free 10 step path to humility. The 10 steps are simple: Fear, Self-Sacrifice, Suffering, Obedience, Confession, content, be content, weakness, prudence, silence and gentleness.

  1. Fear: If we want to truly keep ourselves humble we must head the words of the psalmist who says “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, prudent are all who practice it.”[4] While it is certainly better to love God and live our lives out of love for Him, when we are not feeling the love, at a minimum we should recognize His greatness and our weakness and fear being separated from Him. For as long as we have this fear we will not fun from Him and so can be assured of remaining united to Him even if we don’t feel close to Him.
  2. Self – Sacrifice: Humility is a virtue so if we want to be humble we must daily practice humility. In an effort to keep ourselves from falling in love with our own will, we should daily deny ourselves of something small.
  3. Suffering: While we should not go looking for it, suffering brings humility into our lives, so we should embrace suffering when it comes our way remembering that Jesus suffered and our suffering is an opportunity to suffer with Him and in so doing, help redeem the world.
  4. Obedience: We must be obedient to anyone with legitimate authority. Regardless of who we are there are people who we owe obedience, it could be your spouses, our parents, civil authorities and all of us have an obligation to obey the teachings of the Church. Obedience is a great act of humility because it cause us to unite our wills to the wills of others.
  5. Confession: Humility requires us to admit our faults, and so we should seek to receive the sacrament of Confession frequently and when we go, we should think of the one thing that we really do not want to mention and then mention it first.
  6. Be content: Every insult is an opportunity to practice humbling ourselves. Even if we are unjustly treated badly we should remember that we are all sinners and on some level we deserve it.
  7. Weakness: None of us are perfect. No one is good at everything and everyone is good at something so we must always recall that there are things which we are not good at.
  8. Prudence: We must to be careful what we view and what we talk about. We need to remember that there are somethings we do not need to see or say. Most especially in our speech, we should be on guard against what we laugh about, because often times the funniest jokes are the most cruel.
  9. Silence: Silence requires us to admit that we do not have all the answers and we do not have to talk about everything. Abraham Lincoln is credited with having said it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, that to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
  10. Gentleness: When we do speak or act we should do so with great gentleness recognizing the greatness of the other person we are interacting with.[5]

 

 

 

 

[1] Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalskapg. 129.

[2] Dogma and Preaching pg 277

[3] Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalskapg. 244.

[4] Ps 111:10

[5] These 10 steps are based on Chapter VII of the Rule of St. Benedict

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