Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 1, 2013
Scriptural Reference: Sirach 3:17-18,20,28-29
When the author of Ecclesiastes, the wise man Sirach writes: “conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts”, I hope that what he says by giving the virtue of humility such importance, we might all have specific examples of people who are models of humility and because of their humble demeanor are loved and appreciated more than a giver of gifts. And I think such people are loved more than a giver of gifts because truly humble people in our lives are a gift.
I assure you that the most wonderful talents, gifted and virtuous people I have known in my life were people who had that combination of unusual gifts along with humility. And I am convinced that if you think of the more important people who have influenced your life, who have deeply inspired you, they would all be humble people.
I remember a priest in one of the seminaries where I studied who had several doctorates in different fields. One of our students was working on a term paper and had been recommended a book to read. Having difficulty understanding the book, it was recommended he speak to Fr. The student got the help he needed and when he told another priest how thorough and patient Fr. had been and how wonderful he could explain what was in the book, the other priest told him that Fr. knew the issue quite well because he is the one who had written the book. How humble a person to help and share with another without bragging!
First lesson of the day – make sure you allow humble people to be your friends, to influence your life. The humble have so much more to offer than the braggarts. The wise man Sirach continues: “Humble yourself the more, the greater you are and you will find favor with God.”
Humility is not just for those who feel that they do not live up to the expectations of those who seem to be more gifted. We are all called to live fully, to develop our gifts as much as we can and when we are doing our best, that is what God wants of us and that should allow us to be in the peace that comes from doing the best we can.
But Sirach has a warning for those in this world who are considered great or important. They are to be all the more humble in order to find favor with God. And this is the second lesson of the day – humility does not come from comparing ourselves with others. It comes from knowing ourselves, accepting who we are and what we owe others, considering the talents and opportunities God has given us. Humility is accepting oneself in relationship to God.
Who am I? Who are you? Not in comparison to one another but rather in sincere prayer before God. Seeing ourselves as we really are in God’s presence is the only way to find favor with God. It is what humility is all about.
The very first sin and every sin since then has had something to do with pride, the opposite of humility.
May our humility be a sign that we simply know who we are in the face of God.