Homily: Humility is not Humiliation

I was supposed to deliver this homily tomorrow at a rehab hospital in north Toronto, but I’ve been bumped. So, here it is for you to read and feel blessed 😉

The reading was Luke 14:1,7-14


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Humility. Being humble. Some of us are, some of us – maybe, most of us are not. Some people even tell me how humble they are, a rather strange thing to say indeed. And some people don’t have to tell me because they live it. Humbleness of heart is something you are, something you live, not something you proclaim for yourself.

In our reading today we get a sense of how important Jesus thinks it is for us to be humble. He’s sitting down teaching and he’s noticing that everyone is jockeying for position. They all want to sit in the place of honour. They all want to be first. In Matthew’s Gospel we read about how Jesus’ very own disciples ask who will be greatest in heaven. Jesus points to a child and says “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

It is interesting to me that today’s reading comes from the Gospel of St. Luke. Luke, was a Doctor, a well educated man, able to read and write and knowledgeable in the ways of medicine, such as it was back then. Now, I hope all of you have good humble Doctors while you’re here. In our society we tend to place Doctors on a pedestal as knowledgeable, caring healers. So, it’s interesting that God chose a Doctor to be the only Gospel writer to tell us of this story. It’s a Doctor who tells us of Jesus words to the crowd that they should not seek honour, but rather, we should seek to be humble before the Lord and in turn he promises that the Lord will elevate us and give us honour at the proper time.

Proverbs 25:6-7 says
Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
or stand in the place of the great,
7 for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.

We do not demand honour from the mighty King, our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather He has come to us and invited us into His love because his love is an all consuming fire that brings us into his presence to share in his divine love.

It is important to remember that humility is not the same as humiliation. In fact, in today’s teaching Jesus is telling us that to seek after honour will result in humiliation, but to humble ourselves before the cross is to be made worthy of honour.

The letter of James reminds us that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Why doesn’t God give grace to the proud? Because the proud think they either deserve it or don’t need it, so what would they do with it?

So, first you humble yourself before the cross of Christ because of what he’s done for you. Then, as more and more grace is poured out over your life, it leads you to become more thankful – giving that thanks to God and in response, Grace increases, making you more thankful, and on and on and on.

Listen to these simple words of St. Peter who said: Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

You are all here because you have faced trial, physical and perhaps emotional pain. Take heart, there is a God who loves you and will give you the grace to live through the trials. Our job is to act like a people who have received grace and grace abundantly. Humble yourself before the God of love and receive the fullness of life that only He can offer.

In the words of St. Paul I say “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”


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