OT IV [A]: Zep 2:3, 3:12-13; I Cor 1:26-31; Mt 5:1-12a
There was a touching incident in the career of Professor Stuart Blackie of the University of Edinburg. Many years ago, once he was listening to his students as they presented oral readings. When one young man rose to begin his recitation, he held his book in the left hand. The professor
At this harsh rebuke, the student held up his right arm. He did not have the right hand! The other students shifted uneasily in their chairs. For a moment, the professor hesitated. Then he made his way to the student, put his arm around him, and said, “I never knew about it. Please, will you forgive me?” Professor Stuart Blackie was so humble that he was able to realize his mistake, accept it and apologize for it. Humility is a virtue rarely prized by our society today. Power, appearance, and finances are too often centered around oneself. In contrast, humility minimizes self-focus. A humble person is neither arrogant nor selfish. But he regularly seeks to praise, honour, and serve others. Therefore, the lifestyle of a modest person is richly saturated in compassion, encouragement and integrity.
Today’s First Reading from the Book of Zephaniah suggests that if the humble seek to obey the commands of the Lord, seeking righteousness and humility, on the Day of Judgment, they will be hidden from the wrath of the Lord because of their simplicity, humility and righteousness.
We have prided ourselves to live in a society of educated, sophisticated and modern people. However, it does not justify our rudeness, our unforgiving attitude, or our self-serving personality. Humility is a virtue that needed to be rediscovered in our lives. It needs to be cultivated if we desire to live peacefully and in accord with our community.
Humble people maintain a personal relationship with the God, submitting themselves to His Divine Will. This opposes the rich and the proud who do not have time for their Creator. Their fame, social life, wealth, pleasures take up their time. So, Jesus taught:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
The second reading also emphasizes that God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. We can find many examples in nature for it. Poets have praised lavishly the song of birds. But it is strange that all the song birds are small creatures. We have never heard an eagle sing. Poets have never sung of the song of a turkey. Children have never followed the song of an ostrich. But, poets have immortalized the song of a cuckoo. Lines have been written about the song of the nightingale. The canary has found its place in literature. Many small and insignificant things in nature reflect beauty in its fullness. Sweetness of human existence comes from people who are small in their own estimation. When we humble ourselves God will make us His instruments. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble"(James 4:6). Proverbs teaches “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom,” (Proverbs 11:2) and St Peter wrote to the early Christians" Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1Peter 5:2-6).
A pompous, inflated Congressman once remarked to Horace Greeley: (Horace Greeley was a political reformer and newspaper editor) "I am a self-made man." To which Greeley replied, "Well, Sir, that relieves the Almighty of a great responsibility." When pride comes there is no place for God. Pride not only withdraws the heart from God, but lifts it up against God. Humility helps us to realize our strengths and weaknesses.
Being humble is a powerful trait. Humble people see things for what they are. They do not judge, as they do not wish to be judged. The humility that Jesus demanded from his disciples was exemplified in his life, and it culminated at the last supper, when he washed the feet of His disciples.
Today, through the beatitudes Jesus invites us to cultivate the virtues of poverty and humility that they may help us to return to the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God. Hence, we should always remember the words of Jesus:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”