22nd OT 2016 Year C
We’ve all been there where we’ve had a hard day, just couldn’t get a single thing to go the way we wanted, felt like we accomplished nothing, and we are just not happy. At that point we have a couple of options we can stew in our negative emotions, stay bitter and maybe lash out at an innocent bystander—AKA family, friends, co-workers or we could let it out either talking about our day with someone close to us having some healing over it, OR we could actually have a healthy outlet getting it out through exercise, work around the house or yard, or using our creativity to make something. One of the key components to navigating the good the bad and the ugly that comes with everyday life is authentic humility. Humility is considered the root of all virtues coming from the latin word “hummus” not the stuff you dip your pita chips in but—meaning from the earth or ground. WE remember that when man was made at the beginning of creation God took clay and breathed His spirit within it, and formed man as a living being. Therefore to be humble is to know who we are in relation to our God and to one another. This understanding then penetrates all that we do with a reverence for the moment and for those we share our life with.
Anne Marie Schmidt a survivor of Aushwitz and then the Russian battlefront, grew up the daughter of an aristocrat Czechoslovakian family. She tells the story of when she was a little girl and her mother was hosting an exquisite ball for the whos who of their country. Politicians and influential businessmen and women dressed in their fancy evening apparel were all there hob knobbing with one another when another knock came on the door of their house and there was a man disheveled and in need asking for food and lodging. Anne was upset—and when her mother answered the door and let the man in, should couldn’t believe her own mother would do such a thing to disrupt their night of glamour. Anne’s mother in the middle of the party stooped down and began to wash the man’s feet which were grimy and ulcerated and then told one of the servants to get him some new clothes and if he would like that he was invited to dinner. Anne exclaimed to her mother, “How could you do this and embarrass yourself and me in the middle of all of our guests”. Anne’s mother began to cry and said I have failed you if I have not taught you to recognize the face of Christ when He visits us.
When is the last time we went out of our way to show kindness to another person? A person who needed to be loved to be given the dignity of being acknowledged as a son or daughter of the Father. Little do we know that person—is Christ in the poor. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said the gospel can be summarized in 5 words, “You did it to me.” Just imagine if we lived like Missionaries of Charity seeking to love the unlovable, placing ourselves in the position not of honor but of service.
Isn’t that exactly what Christ did, for He said I came to serve not to be served, Jesus our Lord revealed to us exactly what humility looks like by coming to earth and dwelling among us not as a triumphant overlord parading his might over us, but He remained simple and hidden instead, HE did everything to make tax collectors, prostitutes, sinners feel loved.
As St. Athanasuis said in the 2nd century, “God became man so that man might become God.” How can the divine origin of all things lower himself to such an extent when I don’t like saying hello to someone I don’t know or I look down and pretend there is something interesting on the floor when I cross paths in a public setting with someone else. Humility is looking at all things as an opportunity to love, to serve, to put someone else before ourselves.
The world is in need of people willing to be humble, not worried or concerned simply about their own problems, but able to be a giver of the gift of God’s love. I invite us this week to make a concerted effort to be humble—maybe just by listening more at home, or being patience with someone who usually puts you on edge, or maybe it’s seeking the opportunity to take care of someone else’s needs however you respond to the Lord’s invitation, remember it is Christ who visits you and what a gift He is.