September 1, 2019
Dear Visitors and Parishioners,
Today's readings accentuate the importance of humility in our lives. Dictionary definitions accentuate humility as a low self-regard and sense of unworthiness. In a religious context humility can mean a recognition of self in relation to God, and self-debasement with subsequent submission to God.
New Testament exhortations to humility are found in many places, for example "Blessed are the meek", "He who exalts himself will humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted", as well as Philippians 2:1-17 and throughout the Book of James. Also in Jesus Christ's behavior in general and submission to unjust torture and execution in particular, are held up as examples of righteous humility: "Who, when he was reviled, did not revile: when he suffered, he threatened not: but delivered himself to him that judged him justly."
Saint Augustine stresses the importance of humility in the study of the Bible, with the exemplars of a barbarian Christian slave, the apostle Paul, and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. Both learner and teacher need to be humble, because they learn and teach what ultimately belongs to God. Humility is a basic disposition of the interpreter of the Bible. The confidence of the exegete and preacher arises from the conviction that his or her mind depends on God absolutely. Augustine argues that the interpreter of the Bible should proceed with humility, because only a humble person can grasp the truth of Scripture.
Humility is said to be a fit recipient of grace; according to the words of St. James, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
"True humility" is distinctly different from "false humility" which consists of deprecating one's own sanctity, gifts, talents, and accomplishments for the sake of receiving praise or adulation from others, as personified by the fictional character Uriah Heep created by Charles Dickens. In this context legitimate humility comprises the following behaviors and attitudes:
Recognizing virtues and talents that others possess, particularly those that surpass one's own, and giving due honor and, when required, obedience. Recognizing the limits of one's talents, ability, or authority. The vice opposed to humility is:
Pride-too great obsequiousness or abjection of oneself; this would be considered an excess of humility, and could easily be derogatory to one's office or holy character; or it might serve only to pamper pride in others, by unworthy flattery, which would occasion their sins of tyranny, arbitrariness, and arrogance. The virtue of humility may not be practiced in any external way that would occasion vices in others.
-Fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.