25th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
The apostles are great examples for us. Think about the many wonderful things they did. The traveled around preaching about Jesus Christ. They suffered, many of them died for the faith. Their lives of witness have been inspiring people for 2000 years. But, sometimes in the gospel they are also examples of how to mess things up. Take today for example. In the gospel today they are arguing about who is the greatest. Eventually these men would be known as the heroes of our Christian faith, humble servants of Jesus Christ. But, in this gospel story, they were prideful and arrogant, arguing over who was the greatest. I take comfort in this passage. If there was hope for the Apostles to change there is hope for you and me.
Jesus tells us the first will be last and the last will be first. In other words, Jesus is teaching us about humility. St. Thomas Aquinas called humility the mother of all virtues. We cannot grow in any virtue, without humility. Humility is that fixed and firm disposition in our souls that allows us to approach God without pride or arrogance. Humility is acknowledging that God is God and we are not God. It is recognizing that we are sinners and that Christ is the savior. Rather than trying to figure out who’s the greatest, humility tries to serve everyone as being greater than oneself.
So, that is your homework assignment this week: grow in humility. But, that is easier said than done. Humility is a strange virtue, it cannot really be gained by pursuing it. If you went home today and just tried to be more humble, you would probably end up becoming quite proud of your humility: look how humble I’m becoming… Rather, humility is gained by first looking at the truly humble. We can think of examples in our own lives, or people like Mother Theresa. The greatest example is Christ himself. Though he was God, he died for our sake on the cross. He continues to give himself to us in the humble appearances of bread and wine here at Mass. Whenever we look at this cross, or this tabernacle, it’s like attending a school of humility. Who am I to be proud, when the Son of God died for my sake?
Second, we grow in humility when we acknowledge our imperfections. I, for one, know I’m a sinner. I’m weak, sinful, and selfish. That is why I go to the sacrament of confession. Many of us might not like going to confession too much, but it is a great way to grow in humility. When we confess our own sins it makes us less likely to stand in judgment of those around us.
Today in the Gospel the Apostles had a long way to go in the pursuit of true humility. Maybe we have a long way to go as well. But, with Christ as their teacher, the apostles became humble servants of God. With Christ as our teacher, may we become humble servants of God as well.