Dear Believers in the Christ,
These November days close out another Liturgical Year. The Sacred Liturgy also invites us into deep reflection on the end of time. In fact, this past week, we celebrated All Saints and All Souls. The act of prayerful reflection about our own death is part of our heritage as Christians. We do so because we believe that death is the doorway into God’s Kingdom even for the least among us.
Today’s gospel, Matthew 23:1-12, invites us into reflection about how to live on this earth in the meantime. We are called to live lives of profound integrity. If any person is to be great here on earth, then each of us is called to humility. A bloated ego gets us nowhere in faith. A life of self-importance is a life not based on the humility of the gospel. A life centered on blowing our own trumpet of power, control and egoism, is not a life that will move us into the heavenly realm.
It is never easy to practice what we preach. Take it from me, a preacher of over 35 years. I still am learning and God is patient with me. The gospel challenges us to place on other’s shoulders not burdens, but the love God has for us. We are to live what we preach by offering other people mercy and hope. This is the mission of the Church. This integration of prayer and service changes us all into humble servants of the gospel.
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” What does this mean for us? Humility means belonging to the earth. The word, humus, and humility are related. This does not mean self-deprecation or putting ourselves down. Humility means that our ultimate authority comes from God. Our voice, our actions, our thoughts are centered in learning about our true selves in God. It is very interesting that humility, being grounded in our real selves on earth, means that we find our true meaning in heaven. Humility comes from admitting that we do not have the all the answers or even know all the correct questions to ask.
We are servants of the Master. We find our lives in God alone. Humility also means that we keep learning from God. There is always something to work through, to find, to search for, to discover, to enter into, to find in our hearts when it comes to our relationship with God. We are not yet finished until God takes our breath away.
Here are some questions to consider about your own humble approach to God:
1. How do you feel when you don’t get your way in life? Where do you turn?
2. How would you define humility?
3. How does humility form your concept of death and eternal life?