The Winning Power of Humility Reflection for 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)                  Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

Once upon a time, a life coach entered his class of ten students with a basket of twenty apples. Ten apples were labeled “humility,” while the rest were marked “pride.” Dropping the basket in the middle of the class, he asked each student to choose and pick an apple, each paying attention to the inscriptions.

When they were done picking, he asked, “Who has pride?” There was no response. Then he asked, “Who has humility” and all of them raised their hands. When he asked why nobody picked pride, they all responded that pride is not good. Then he shocked them by saying:

People always go for what they do not have, not what they have. You have all picked humility because that’s what you need, and you did not pick pride because you have it already. Now you have humility; use it!

The First Reading from the Book of Zechariah (9:9-10) gives us a graphic prefiguration of the Lord’s triumphant entry to Jerusalem. The prophet encourages the people to rejoice as the king comes to them as a just and humble savior riding on an ass, a colt, the foal of an ass.

For a king, riding on an ass or donkey instead of a horse is a powerful indication of humility and peace. Kings are known to ride on horses, while donkeys are known majorly as the transport system for burdens, so they are rightly called beasts of burden.

Our Lord Jesus Christ came to take up the burden of our sins. Imagine how he carried the cross on his shoulder; that was how he carried the sin of the world, and he did so with unmatched humility.

In the Gospel Reading (Matt. 11:25-30), our Lord Jesus Christ brings in the theme of humility by default while encouraging his hearers in Galilee who labor and are burdened to come to him and obtain rest. He said:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

The Destructive Power of Pride

While our reflection focuses on humility, understanding the destructive power of pride, which is the flip side of humility, will be important and helpful. Such an understanding will challenge us to be intentional about humility.

Pride is an inordinate feeling and excessive rating of oneself over and above others. At the center of pride is the misfortune of self-exaltation. And what makes pride a disaster is that God hates it. The epistle writers Peter and James agree with the scripture: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5b, James 4:6).

The easiest way to attract God’s opposition is to be prideful. The Book of Proverbs (29:23) says, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” And in Proverbs (16:18), we read, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” In short, pride is a killer that makes its victim feel good.

How to Obtain the Currency of Humility

Any valuable lesson on humility must reflect the humility of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though in the form of God, humbled himself by taking the form of a servant. The following ways would help any attentive Christian to obtain the currency of humility.

Develop the Mindset of Christ: In the letter to the Philippians (2:5), St. Paul said, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” Describing this mindset, St. Paul tied it to the virtue of humility, which made Jesus Christ obedient to death, even death on the cross.

In the Gospel Reading today, our Lord Jesus Christ proposed this mindset when he instructed his listeners: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.”   

Be Selfless, not selfish: Selfishness is the engine room of pride, while humility rides on selflessness. To be selfless is to think less of oneself. In the Letter to the Philippians (2:3), St. Paul said: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

Be Thankful: Genuine thankfulness produces and sustains humility by focusing on a reality outside oneself. Several passages in the scriptures encourage us to be thankful. God says in the Book of Psalms (50:23) that those who offer thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor him.

We live in a world where people ascribe their success and achievement to their efforts. The truth is that whatever we may have accomplished in life is by God’s grace. Recall that cut off from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). In short, the thankful is always humble, while the ungrateful is often prideful.

.Admit your Mistake: Have you ever encountered people who know it all or would never admit their mistakes? That is an acute lack of humility. Proverbs (28:13) says that those who hide their wrongdoing will not prosper, but those who confess them will obtain mercy.

It takes humility to say, “I am sorry,” without adding a “but!” The truth is that no one knows it all, and we all make mistakes, but it takes humility to admit, acknowledge, and apologize.                 

You need the help of the Holy Spirit: The Second Reading (Romans 8:9, 11-13) tells us about the importance of living in the Spirit in contrast to living in the flesh. Humility is an important facility of the Spirit that helps us to put to death the carnal gratification of pride.

True humility is powerful evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in an individual. To this end, we need the help of the Holy Spirit to be truly humble; in fact, humility happens when our spirit aligns with the Holy Spirit giving us discernment and direction.

Moving Forward: Be humble

There is a need for us to learn in life that pride destroys while humility builds and sustains. Whatever you have is a gift; be humble. If you are rich, remember that many people are far richer than you, be humble. If you are beautiful, know that there are more beautiful people out there, be humble. If you are intelligent, someone is more gifted than you; be humble.

Whatever excellence you think you possess in life, someone, somewhere, has a higher version than you; that you do not know about them does not mean that they do not exist; be humble! God bless you! Fr. Bonnie.              

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