[This homily was given at the 12:15pm Mass on Sunday, September 1.]
Click here for the Scripture readings.
There's something you should know about me... I'm brilliant! Why are you laughing? Seriously! Ask anyone who knows me: I'm brilliant. Off the charts brilliant! Stop laughing!
One of the benefits of being a "late vocation", having a done a few things before becoming a priest, is that there's whole big group of people who knew me as Craig, before I became Father Craig. And boy do they have some stories: stories of me not being so brilliant. In fact, it's my friends and family that keep me ground, they keep it real, they help me laugh at myself, they, in a word, keep me humble.
We are so familiar with this Gospel passage today. We've heard Jesus teach us before about being humble. But I'd like to spend a little time wandering around this passage this morning and see if Jesus has something more to tell us.
The word humility comes from a Latin word that means "low" or "of the earth". Just think of that tasty treat we enjoy on crackers: hummus. Hummus is made from basic food stuffs of the earth: grain and such. But, another way to think of it is this way: humility can help us remember those words spoken over us at the beginning of Lent, on Ash Wednesday: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return." That stuff is the stuff of the earthy, lowly, that from which we were created, and to which, one day, we will return.
But I'd like to give another definition today for humility. Humility is seeing and experience ourselves and others NOT as we would like to, but as God already does.
I know God sees us in two ways. First, He sees us as wounded, broken people, with a tendency to sin and fall into patterns of unhealthy behavior. And he knows that we have to saved from that, rescued from that. And so he sent his Son, Jesus Christ to do just that. And in our Redemption and Salvation, and because of our Baptism and sharing in this Eucharist, God also sees our amazing and world-changing potential. He sees our ability to Love and Serve and Pray and Forgive and Give that transcends that brokenness and woundedness that is a part of who we are. But this Good News! We are capable of great things for the Lord, all of us, and humility is seeing that in ourselves and in others. But humility is also seeing the brokenness of those around us. Humility is recognizing the person as God recognizes them: spouses, children, co workers, neighbors and friends: Humility is seeing them, and ourselves, not as we would want, but as God already does.
My friends, this week, we ask for an outpouring of Humility into our hearts. We want to be able to recognize and embrace the brokenness of others, and of ourselves, and see it not a cause of resentment or prejudice, but as an invitation to witness the great healing power of Love that comes from God alone, working through us. This week we recommit to to nourishing that awareness of that people, including ourselves, are in need of Healing and Redemption. Perhaps even those closest to you, like your spouse, are in need of radical healing. In humility, we approach the people in our life with great gentleness this week. And we move, ever so slowly and steadily, to embracing that brokenness in them and in ourselves, and ask the Lord to heal them through the way we Love and Serve and Pray and Forgive and Give.
May we stay grounded this week, may we be willing to laugh at ourselves and not take ourselves to seriously. May we love with urgency remembering that all is Gift and one day, we will return to He who loved us first.