I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Humility allows us to let Jesus help

Humility is a hunger for holiness. The word humble comes from the Latin word, "humus," which means "earth." The earth receives the rain and seed-bearing plants. As these seed-bearing plants take root, they spring up and beautify the earth with lush green grass, beautiful flowers, vines, trees, shrubs and the fruits that go with them.

The humble soul is like the earth; it is all receptivity. It recognizes its poverty and God's abundant graces, so the humble soul welcomes all God offers. God truly beatifies the soul thirsting for Him.

On the other hand, the proud soul is so consumed with its own importance that it does not recognize any poverty of self, except the need to have others recognize its false self-importance. Such a proud soul is like the desert -- dry, barren, lonely and uninhabited.

Search the Scriptures, and you will find again and again that the Lord hears the cry of the poor. For example, the 10 lepers were ostracized from society. They knew their condition was desperate, so they came to Jesus to heal them, and Jesus did. The woman hemorrhaging for 12 years, unable to get relief, was very receptive to touching but the hem of Jesus' garment, and her expectant faith healed her.

Perhaps one of the finest examples of humility is found in Mary's hymn to Elizabeth at the Visitation. She says, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness." She goes on to say, "He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly."

Satan knows very well what Mary is saying. When Satan realized that the Son of God would become man and be exalted above the angels, he said, "I will not serve." When the angel Gabriel revealed to Mary that she was to be the mother of the Savior, she said, "Let it be done to me according to thy word." Hence, in her poverty, she welcomed the word-made-flesh to earth.

Once Mary conceived Jesus, she welcomed the stable in Bethlehem as a good place to give birth. She welcomed the flight into Egypt to save her son. She welcomed the passion of Christ because she trusted the Father.

In today's Gospel, a Pharisee welcomes Jesus to a banquet. Jesus, in turn, offers the Pharisee a banquet of words about the virtue of humility.

Christ then demonstrated the virtue of humility for us by His passion and death. St. Paul tells us in Philippians, "Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, and found human in appearance, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross."

Not only did Christ model humility for us, but also He wants to live His humility through us.

The questions we need to ask ourselves are simple. Am I aware of my own inner poverty? Am I humble enough to reach out when I see others in poverty? Am I willing to listen to their aches and pains, to their hurts? Am I humble enough to enter into their poverty so as to help them find Jesus in the midst of their poverty?

What if that poverty exists in my own home and in my own household? Am I willing to make myself vulnerable to their hurts? Am I willing to listen to their plight and make myself vulnerable to their helplessness? What if that person is my husband or wife, son or daughter, brother or sister, mother or father?

Once on the Fourth of July, at a local gas station, I found myself confronted by a form of poverty for which I did not think I was prepared. A double amputee approached me, asking for gas and a new starter for his car. Fortunately, a kind gentleman overheard the request and became my moral support. This amputee used a forked stick to control the accelerator and the brake. We were able to get him the gas he needed, and even found him a mechanic to replace his starter. In spite of his poverty, he was filled with an inner spirit of joy and optimism. As he drove away, we both discovered Christ very much alive in this man's poverty. However, neither my friend nor I was ready to trade places him.

Am I humble enough to sit down with the poor and the broken who live in my home and at my place of work and become vulnerable enough to listen to their poverty and to share my spirit with them? Am I willing at least to listen to them and to pray with them?

It is no sin to answer a frank, "No" to the above questions. That qualifies us to ask Jesus to help us do what we of ourselves cannot do.

We might ask the Lord to help us pray from the depths of our heart the prayer of St. Francis:

"Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

"O Divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life."

Even though we are not there yet, we can pray ourselves there!

Scripture readings for the week

Sunday, Aug. 25

21st week in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 66:18-21

Psalms 117:1, 2

Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13

Luke 13:22-30

Monday, Aug. 26

21st week in Ordinary Time

First Thessalonians 1:2-5, 8-10

Psalms 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9

Matthew 23:13-22

Tuesday, Aug. 27

St. Monica — Memorial

First Thessalonians 2:1-8

Psalms 139:1-3, 4-5

Matthew 23:23-26

Wednesday, Aug. 28

St. Augustine, bishop and doctor — Memorial

First Thessalonians 2:9-13

Psalms 139:7-8, 9-10, 11-12

Matthew 23:27-32

Thursday, Aug. 29

Beheading of St. John the Baptist, martyr — Memorial

Jeremiah 1:17-19

Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17

Mark 6:17-29

Friday, Aug. 30

21st week in Ordinary Time

First Thessalonians 4:1-8

Psalms 97:1, 2, 5-6, 10, 11-12

Matthew 25:1-13

Saturday, Aug. 31

21st week in Ordinary Time

First Thessalonians 4:9-12

Psalms 98:1, 7-8, 9

Matthew 25:14-30

Sunday, September 1

22nd week in Ordinary Time

Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29

Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a

Luke 14:1, 7-14

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