Over the last couple weeks Our Lord Jesus has repeated Himself in each parable saying, “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” He said this referring to the Pharisee and the Publican, about entering the narrow gate and this Sunday if mentions it in reference to taking the lowest place at the table. So, I would like to take a moment to reflect on what humility is and why Our Lord is emphasizing it in these scriptures.
Humility is a virtue that allows us to recognize our lowliness and dependence on God. Humility can often be misunderstood as thinking the worst of yourself and denying your own goodness or achievement. That is not humility though because it is not rooted in truth. At other times humility can be mistaken for being a wimp or never standing up for yourself. But, that would be a lack of courage, not an excess of humility. Instead, humility allows us to see what is true: that everything we have that is good in us is from God and that we need Him.
The contrary vice to humility is of course Pride and it is something that is very present in our own culture. Pride was the sin that caused the fall of Adam and Eve and all of humanity with them: when the devil tempted them, he told them they would be like gods if they ate the fruit. (Gen 3:5) Likewise, whenever we sin gravely, we are making ourselves into gods because we think we can create our own laws, and that God’s will can be denied. People who suffer from pride cannot really look at themselves, cannot really admit their faults and are constantly judging others. They are unable to be helped because they cannot admit anything is wrong.
That is exactly why humility is so incredibly important. When we admit our faults, though it might sting for a moment, we are better off. By not trying to assert we are the best all the time, we might actually become better. By seeing that we have a far road to go, we can begin to walk it. We have a Father in heaven who loves us and wants what is best for us. There is nothing wrong in admitting that we are His children and that we need His help.