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Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Mt. 23:1-12

Humility is an indispensable quality of character in Jesus’ scale of values. He was convinced that if you want to be great you have to be truly humble. Those of us who follow Jesus should share this conviction.

The opposite of humility is pride. If we meet proud people we find them very off-putting. We avoid them. We think if only they possessed the virtue of humility they would be far nicer.

After asking the Holy Spirit for inspiration for this homily, I found a wonderful article by a master counsellor Alfred Ells on the web. He found 12 ways from the Bible of how to humble yourself.

  1. Routinely confess your sin to God. (Luke 18:9-14) All of us sin and fail to compare ourselves to God. At the close of each day we ought to review our heart’s desire and our behaviour, coupled with a monthly visit to the confessional. This is an essential practice of humility.
  2. Acknowledge your sin to others. (James 3:2, James 5:16) Humility before God is not complete unless there is also humility with those with whom we live. A true test of our willingness to humble ourselves is being willing to acknowledge to others that we have hurt them and to say sorry not only to God but to those we have offended.
  3. Take wrongs patiently. (1 Peter 3:8-17) Now this is hard. When we are accused unjustly we immediately tend to react and seek to put the record straight as we see it. However, patiently responding to the unjust accusations and actions of others demonstrates our strength of godly character, and provides an opportunity to practise humility.
  4. Actively submit to authority … the good and the bad! (1 Peter 2:18) Our culture does not value submission; rather it promotes individualism. How do we purposely and actively submit to those whom God has given authority over us? Submitting ourselves to them is a good way of being humble.
  5. Receive correction and feedback from others graciously. (Proverbs 10:17, 12:1) People are quick to criticise us. How do we react? Are we gracious in receiving any negative feedback or correction offered? Would it be good to say, 'Thank you for caring enough to share that with me, I will pray about it?' Look for the kernel of truth in what people offer you, even if it comes from a dubious source. Always pray, "Lord, what are You trying to show me through this?"
  6. Accept a lowly place. (Proverbs 25:6,7) If you find yourself wanting to sit at the top table, wanting others to recognise your contribution or become offended when others are honoured or chosen, then pride is present. Thank God, and support others being recognized rather than you. Accept and look for the lowly place; it is the place of humility.
  7. Purposely associate with people of lower state than you. (Luke 7:36-39) Jesus was derided by the Pharisees for socializing with the poor and those of lowly state. Our culture is very status conscious and people naturally want to socialize with those above them. We should resist the temptation of being partial to those with status or wealth.
  8. Choose to serve others. (Philippians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 4:5, Matthew 23:11) When we do this we are serving God’s purposes in their lives. Doing so reduces our focus on ourselves and builds the Kingdom of God instead of the kingdom of self. When serving another costs us nothing, we should question whether we are really being of service to others.
  9. Be quick to forgive. (Matthew 18: 21-35) Forgiveness is possibly one of the greatest acts of humility we can do. To forgive is to acknowledge a wrong that has been done us and carefully to consider our right of repayment for the wrong. Forgiveness is denial of self. It is not insisting on our way and our justice.
  10. Cultivate a grateful heart. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) The more we develop an attitude of gratitude for the gift of salvation and the life God has given us in this, the more true will be our perspective of self. A grateful heart is a humble heart.
  11. Aim to speak well of others. (Ephesians 4:31-32) Saying negative things about others puts them 'one down' and us 'one up' which is a form of pride. Speaking well of others edifies them and builds them up as well as ourselves. We must make sure that what we say is not intended as flattery.
  12. Treat pride as a condition that always necessitates embracing the Cross. (Luke 9:23) It is our nature to be proud and it is God’s nature in us that brings humility. Committing to a lifestyle of daily dying to self and living through Him is the foundation for true humility.

Lord Jesus may we all follow Your example. You were the greatest because You were the humblest, the One Who served everyone.

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