A special thank you this week to our friends from St. Celestine Parish, Elmwoord Park in the congregation.
My sister and I were talking one day as she was cleaning her kitchen getting ready for a Christmas party. And so I decided to help her. That was my mistake. She told me that she particularly liked this ceramic jolly snowman that was on the windowsill. And of course, naturally while I was helping her reach an area at the top of the blinds, I carelessly dropped this jolly snowman and it shattered into pieces like Humpty Dumpty. Of course, we kind of giggled and laughed and were surprised. But I was truly, you know, sorry and humbled by this example, this silly little example, of humility.
The scripture readings are all about humility today. In fact, the gospel passage for today illustrates a need for humility in our lives. We can easily become careless, you know, of course on a physical level, but also on a spiritual level, forgetting that life is fragile and that we’re not always in charge. Very rarely are we. We have a dependence, sometimes a dependence on other people, but all the time a dependence on God. The God of justice. In the gospel, Jesus says, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Through humility, we too must admit our own weaknesses. Maybe we’re humbled today because of our lack of health, or our lack of mobility, or independence.
No matter what our circumstances, our accomplishments, we always stand in need of a generous God who gives us all good things, and who loves us with mercy. Jesus tells this story of the two men entering the temple. One who is not focused on God in his prayer, but he’s self-centered and glad that he’s not like the rest of them. The other man, he enters the temple with humility and says, “Oh God, be merciful to me a sinner,” as he bows his head in prayer. Saint Paul, too, knows the need for humility. How God stood by him and gave him strength. Paul kept the faith, pouring himself out. You see, humility seems to be the key in our daily prayer. It leads us to a contrite heart, and always unlocks a merciful God who is available and ready to hear our humble prayer.
As the book of Sirach tells us, “God hears the cry of the oppressed, the weak, the orphan, and the widow.” The lowly one’s prayer reaches the heavens. During these last days of the Year of Jubilee, we pray for humility as we look to our merciful Lord through the sacraments, especially reconciliation in the Eucharist, offering our brokenness to His healing mercy.