WISDOM IN HUMILITY, A RECOGNITION OF OUR SHARED HUMANITY
Fr. Bel San Luis tells the story of a Dog and his 2 duck friends. The ducks heard of their dor friend’s desire to see the north pole and they invited them to come with them. So they offered him to come along. So the ducks tied a rope on their beak and asked the dog to bite and hung in between of them while they fly. The dog agreed with the idea and they set on a journey. On their way, a man saw the spectacular sight and said, “Wow, what an incredible sight, whose idea is that?” The ducks were elated to hear the complement for their idea but kept the joy for themselves since they could neither smile or comment back without losing their bite on the rope. But the dog who cannot let the opportunity of honor to pass, shouted, “It’s MINE.” By opening his mouth, the dog released his bite upon the rope and fell 2000 feet from the ground, and end up being an azucena for the man.
Beware of seeking an honor for yourself that is not rightfully yours. You might be the next one to fall 2000 feet from the ground. Rather, know what you are, be humble. “For he who exalts himself will be humbled,” What then is HUMILITY? Today’s readings describe it to us. And let me identify three points to consider in our reflection on HUMILITY.
FIRST, humility is not inferiority complex. A person who is afraid to face other people, who is shy and timid and who cannot be relied upon and trusted with responsibilities is not necessarily humble. Rather, humility is the courage to accept that we are mere God’s creatures, that we are nothing before God, they say, fear of the Lord. In Sirach, “to fear the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.” Then, to be humble is to be wise. That is why a humble person accepts responsibility. He is confident and unafraid. Yet does not seek a place of honor for him/herself. Humility with wisdom recognizes one’s capacities, that is, knows ones limitations. The first reading reminds us, “What is sublime for you seek not, into things beyond your strength search not.”
This point is illustrated by a story told of an accident that happened on the street. A woman approached the victims and tried to help them. But suddenly, a nursing student come in and said: “Excuse me Miss! I have had a course on first aid and I am trained in CPR.” The woman stepped aside, and watched the procedures a few moments, then tapped the student on the shoulder and said: “When you’re through, if ever you will need a doctor, NANDITO LANG AKO.” What do you think of the student, was she wise to know where she stands and humble to admit what she can do? The lesson remains, he who exalts him/herself shall be humbled.
SECOND, humility is not a trick, a technique nor a device to get indirectly what we wanted in the first place, as if first we have to humble ourselves in order to be exalted later! Humility is not an instrument of reward when we work for God. Even Jesus who obeyed the Father for our Redemption was not promised with reward rather He did it willingly out of love. If at the end of time, we will be sharing in the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven, it is not because of our efforts but because it is freely given, it is a free gift from God; the technical term is GRACE, libre ang grasya ng Panginoon. So, humility is the recognition that we cannot control God and demand from him honor for ourselves. Rather, humility is being at the mercy of God.
THIRD, our teachers in HS used to explain that humility comes from the Latin word HUMUS, which means EARTH. I believe humility is the recognition that I am essentially like anyone else, that is, I am dust and to dust I shall return. Nonetheless, this earth out of which I am created by God is endowed with dignity which I must respect and recognize in others. If humility is the recognition of our shared humanity endowed with dignity by God, then there is no reason for me to claim superiority over others. Whether, famous or despised, rich or destitute, powerful or a little one, all share in the same HUMUS, earth at death.
If we are essentially HUMUS, richness and power and things are accidents. They are not what makes us human endowed with dignity by God. That is why Jesus discourages the Pharisees from seeking places of honor at meals, by inviting the rich and famous who in turn will honor them by their invitation in return. Instead, Jesus challenges them to invite the nobody in their society who has no means to reciprocate the invitation. It is in their midst that humility as recognition of our shared humanity happens.
At this point, we can say that there is wisdom in humility by being dependent on God and in solidarity with the rest of humanity. HUMILITY as a virtue is meant for a purpose. Otherwise, is becomes false humility, a pretension. Rather it is meant for others. As Saint Paul says in his letter to the Philippians: “Do nothing out of selfishness of out of vainglory. Rather humbly regards others a more important than ourselves, each looking out not for his own interest but for those of others.” Jesus more powerfully said it in these words, ” I have come not to be served but to serve.”
My brothers and sisters, HUMILITY is best expressed in service. Sa paglilingkoD ang kaganapan ng kababaang loob.