Humility

Scripture Reflection for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

It is interesting to me that the most commonly-thought of synonyms of “humility” tend to be “meekness”, “submissiveness”, or “lowliness.”   Thinking of it in these terms, humility takes on a negative connotation, suggesting weakness, or lacking confidence.  To me, humility is about understanding myself as no better than anyone, but also as no less than anyone, and as children of God, we are all pretty amazing.    I know from conversations with friends that I differ from many of them on this, but before I consider myself an individual, I think of myself first as part of God’s creation, a valuable part of something even more valuable.   So, no matter where I go, or who I am talking to, I try to stay aware that we are all equal parts of this creation.  This makes it easier for me to not compare myself with other people, and it also helps me to accept others exactly as they are, regardless of where they come from in the world, how they earn their living, who their friends are, or what they do in their spare time.

A few days ago, I returned from a tour of Greece, “Following in the Footsteps of St. Paul,” where we visited several places St. 579171_10151919464826508_1034212805_nPaul lived and taught, including Philippi, Thessaloniki, Corinth, and Ephesus.   For me, this journey was an exercise in humility.  Visiting The Areopagus (Mars Hill) in Athens where St. Paul gave his speech about the “unknown God”, I marveled at the enormity of all that has gone before me, and also all that will continue to unfold after I am gone.   Walking among archaeological sites dating back 3,000 years was quite humbling, making me feel at once insignificant and part of something far greater than I could comprehend.

I think Pope Francis is a good example of someone living with humility.   His comments reported in the media seem to reflect a man who considers himself a “normal” person, despite his position as leader of one of the most enduring institutions in the world.    He has made it clear that economic and social justice are priorities, and also that he does not see himself as superior to others, even if he is Pope.   He calls people on the telephone to remind them God loves them, he takes “selfies” with teens on their iPhones, and he visits the imprisoned.  Recently, he suspended a bishop under investigation for lavish spending habits.

The poem “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann is thumb-tacked to the wall above my desk, and when I read it, it always helps to restore humility within me.  In it, there is a wonderful line which reads,  Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.  You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.”

For me, this speaks to the true meaning of humility.

Trevor Droesbeck, Archdiocese of Moncton Office of Youth Faith Development

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