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22nd Sunday

Filipinos appreciate the virtue of humility. Christians encourage one another to be humble. We are ever cautious of pride and we do not want to be considered arrogant. But is this humility when…

A woman is praised for her beautiful dress: What a gorgeous dress you are wearing today! And she demurs: This one? It’s actually very old. (when in fact she just bought it for the occasion)

A child is asked: Who is more clever, is it you or your brother? The child replies: It’s my brother, I am just following his footsteps.

A person is asked: Why don’t you give a speech, or start the prayer? And the person answers: I’m not good at that. Please find somebody else.

Often, what passes for humility is actually timidity, fear or shame.

Central to the gospel today is Jesus challenge and promise: The one who exalts himself will be humbled and the one who humbles himself will be exalted. Praise of the humble carries with it the promise of a reward for humble hearts.

But what is this humility for Jesus? Was it an avoidance of praise and glory? In fact Jesus was accused of pride and usurpation because of his claims that he existed before Abraham, and that he was one with the Heavenly Father.

Was it Jesus’ failure to act and to show initiative? In fact, Jesus was proactive, never retreating from his tasks of preaching, healing and miracle-working.

Jesus is anything but humble if we base humility on the standards of false humility we have grown accustomed to. For Jesus, humility is not external. It is an attitude of the heart. But humility is also practical.

Not to choose the reserved places of honor is not to fear excellence or fail to strive for the best. Jesus shunned the high places so that he can share the life of the lowly, the poor and the marginalized. Notice his instruction about feasting and partying: When you give a feast, invite…

Jesus is the best picture of humility. To follow him is to live his example not by pretending to be least or refusing to act. Humility is being sensitive to the situation of people around us who are suffering and in pain.

In August we remember Mother Teresa, who left her comfortable home and later her sanitized convent to seek out the face of Jesus in the suffering brothers and sisters. We remember Cardinal Jaime Sin, a prince f the church, who had only the poor in his heart until the day he died.

Let us ask Jesus to teach us to be truly humble, to have hearts open to those who need our love and our help.