Humility: a Peacemaking Virtue

Our Lord shows us how the vice of pride is evil both in theory and in practice.

Newsroom (31/08/2022 10:15 PM, Gaudium Press ) The Gospels constitute a true treasure of the Church. Two thousand years have not been sufficient to exhaust the wealth of commentary on every gesture or word of Our Lord. His parables, His sayings and teachings apply to all people and to all ages.

But if we had to undertake the difficult task of preaching a sermon to the whole of humanity together, from Adam down to the last man – an enormous Church would be needed! – and if we wanted to involve everyone, today’s Gospel would seem ideal.

Indeed, the liturgy deals with a theme from which no man or woman, of any age, is excluded.

“Do not choose the highest place”

St. Luke tells us in the Gospel of today’s liturgy that Our Lord had been invited to the house of one of the chief publicans for a meal. Having observed that many chose the first place to sit, He said: “When you are invited to a wedding feast, do not take the first place” (Lk 14:8). The Divine Master was transmitting this teaching for a very practical reason: if someone more important had been invited, we should have to give up our place and choose a lower seat. How embarrassing!

St. Thérèse has said that humility is truth. Whoever accepts this definition must conclude that pride is a lie. But if anyone disagrees with this truth, it is enough to have recourse to practical experience: in general – but not on every occasion – the proud person flatters himself with qualities he does not possess. In the example of the Gospel: he who is invited to a party and knows that the host will give him the first place, does not prefer this place over another. But the one who is not so convinced of his friendship with the master of the banquet and of his position with others will sit arrogantly in the highest seat.

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He does not realize that the boastful one who, seeking honors that he does not deserve, only accumulates humiliation, as St. Cyril says: “To elevate oneself readily to honors that we do not deserve, denotes that we are rash and makes our actions worthy of vituperation.”[1]

The humble are always well esteemed

Moreover, as today’s second reading affirms, God is glorified by the humble (cf. Eccl 3:21). The humble person enjoys God’s protection and is highly esteemed by Him, because the Creator loves humility. Those who empty themselves of themselves are ready to be “filled” by God; on the contrary, those who are full of themselves leave no room for God.

Besides, the company of the proud is unbearable; no one esteems the vain soul. Imagine having the misfortune of enduring for a day, or even for an hour, someone who only knows how to talk about himself, who continually seeks to appear great and to humiliate others. Perhaps there is no worse martyrdom! Living with the humble is very different: it softens the atmosphere, it rests and gives joy, because whoever is concerned only to serve God in those with whom he comes into contact, these will certainly be the cause of satisfaction and contentment for others.

Humility: a peacemaking virtue

A very characteristic symptom of pride is restlessness, a disturbance. Since the proud person seeks to appear before the world with “qualities” that he does not possess – he knows this himself – agitation takes hold of his soul; he lives in distress. It is like, for example, someone who has a false ear: naturally he will be worried that others might notice his bodily defect. So it is with the proud man: he is continually afraid of being discovered, he fears that others will notice that he is not all he seems to be. Once again it is proved how vain and shameful this vice of pride is, how much of a lie it is.

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In the soul of the humble, on the contrary, there is a throne on which peace sits, the same peace that is sung in today’s Psalm: “The just rejoice in the presence of the Lord; they are glad and rejoice in joy” (Ps 67:4). The humble man fears nothing. He has no masks, he does not worry about what others think of him. He recognizes himself as a sinner and knows that all the humiliations he suffers are a means of atoning for his own faults.

The humble person is happy, joyful, and lives in peace because he is concerned only with God’s glory

Let us ask Our Lady for the grace to share in her humility, for then we will not only occupy the first places at the banquet in the Kingdom of Heaven, but we will have the unspeakable happiness of sitting at her side for all of eternity.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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