Saturday, October 31, 2009

Everyone Who Exalts Himself Will Be Humbled, And Whoever Humbles Himself Will Be Exalted.

Reading 1
Romans 11:1-2, 11-12, 25-29

Brothers and sisters:

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am myself a child of Israel, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah — how he appealed to God against Israel?

This is why I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not become wise in your own estimation: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

"The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins."

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarch, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.

Luke 14:1, 7-11

On a Sabbath, Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, and he was being carefully watched by the people there.

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

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The Link Between Humility and Kindness

The Christian must be humble; but humility does not consist in hiding our talents and virtues, but in the clear knowledge of all that is wanting in us, in not being elated by what we have, seeing that it is a free gift of God, and that even with all his gifts we are still infinitely small.

It is a remarkable fact that great virtue necessarily begets humility; and if great talent does not always have the same effect, it still softens a great deal of the uncouthness that clings inseparably to the pride of mediocrity. True excellence and genuine humility are not incompatible with each other; on the contrary, they are twin sisters. God, who is excellence itself, is without pride. He sees himself as he is, but does not despise what is not himself; he is himself, naturally and simply, with affection for all his creatures, however humble. Kindness and humility are virtually one and the same.

The kindhearted feel naturally drawn to give of themselves to others, to sacrifice themselves, to make themselves little; that is true humility. Pride is more hated than any other vice, not only because it wounds our self-love, but because it shows a lack of the virtue of kindness, without which it is impossible to gain love. Therefore, be kindhearted, and you will inevitably become humble. Your eyes, your lips, the features of your forehead will all begin to look different, and you will find that you will be sought after quite as much as you were formerly shunned. But how do you become kindhearted? First of all, by praying earnestly to God for it, and then by striving constantly and earnestly to seek the good of others, and to sacrifice our own for their sake. That is a long apprenticeship, but good will carries us anywhere.

Father Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, O.P.

Father Lacordaire (+ 1861) was a great preacher of the Dominican Order, who re-established the Order of Preachers in France after the Revolution.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

This is a compelling post, Fr. John, one that speaks to my heart and to something that happened yesterday. I was flying home from Texas, where I had gone to put out a fire at one of our branches, with a member of my senior management team. He was offered a free upgrade to first class. None of us know why, including the agent. But there it was. He offered to change seats with me, as I am his supervisor, but, of course, I refused. Who needs the greater space more, he who is over six feet tall or I who am under five feet tall? That is a no-brainer math question. He then offered it to his assistant, who also thanks him but refused. This senior manager happens to be a retired very high ranking military officer who is quite humble, as you can see. I am so proud of my senior managers. Any other one of them would have done the same. Humility is difficult to acquire, and all of us (especially I) need to work at it all the time, but there is an aspect about it that you rarely see discussed: it is contagious. If you set an example of humility, however flawed, your colleagues, friends, and subordinates start emulating it. And, likewise, if you bring spirituality into the workplace, God takes over, and then the most amazing things happen.