Romans 11:1-2a, 11-12, 25-29
Luke 14:1, 7-11
In today’s passage from Luke, Jesus teaches us to be "humble". "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." As I read this verse I remembered a person who once reminded me of this passage. Fr. James Patrick White, C.P., on one of my first attempts at a homily in front of our Passionist Family, whispered to me at the exchange of Peace during the Mass, "Stay humble". I always thought it was a curious way to wish someone peace, but I have since realized that staying humble often does result in a more peaceful relationship with God and others. Yet I often wonder about what "being humble" really means. Nature may offer some guidance.
Right now my wife Mary Rita is preparing her garden for the winter and spring to follow. She is nurturing the soil so it will be naturally open to growth and the grace of a beautiful spring. Perhaps to be humble is to be open like the garden, to be ready for God’s grace and movement in my life, to be receptive and not controlling. As a child on the day of my first holy communion I prayed such a prayer from the St. Joseph’s Missal for children. "O come, great Christ my King. The garden of my heart is ready. Won’t You please, Oh please, come in!" This was a child’s humility, later to become an adult’s challenge, maintaining humility in a culture that exalts power and status.
As I reflect on today’s gospel teaching, I must remind myself of the simple message of humility. The garden of my life and ministry as a Christian must be open to God’s movement, ready to respond to the growth God wants, not the power I seek. Whether I am grappling with the message of the social gospel in today’s culture or simply speaking with the grocery store clerk, I am called to be ready to receive God’s grace and will in humility. I must follow the lead and request of Jesus in today’s Alleluia verse.
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am meek and humble of heart."
Terry McDevitt, Ph.D. is a member of our Passionist Family who volunteers at the Passionist Assisted Living Community in Louisville, Kentucky.