Response: God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor; Hebrews 12: 18-19, 22-24; Gospel: Luke 14: 1, 7-14
Humility and generosity are two virtues Christ points out in the parables in the Sunday Gospel.
I offer three perspectives from St. Theresa of Avila, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and “The Book of Joy” by Douglas Abrams.
St. Theresa gives us the foundational definition: Humility is truth. It is becoming aware of and accepting the truth of who we are.
Self-awareness and self-acceptance lie at the heart of the process in St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises—awareness of and acceptance of our blessings and giftedness, as well as our shortcomings and transgressions.
Douglas Adams’ “The Book of Joy” adds a light human touch to humility. Drawing from conversations with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adams points out that the root word of humility, “humus, the lowly and sustaining earth,” is the same as that of humanity and humor.
Adams writes: “Is it any surprise that we have to have a sense of humility to be able to laugh at ourselves, and that to laugh at ourselves reminds us of our shared humanity?”
This is the humility that the world needs most now. It is humility based on a shared humanity and humility that will foster joy in the human community. This community is where love is born, nurtured and flourishes.
Parker Palmer puts it succinctly, yet vividly:
“But if I am to let my life speak things I want to hear, things I would gladly tell others, I must also let it speak things I do not want to hear and would never tell anyone else! My life is not only about my strengths and virtues; it is also about my liabilities and my limits, my trespasses and my shadow.
“An inevitable though often ignored dimension of the quest for ‘wholeness’ is that we must embrace what we dislike or find shameful about ourselves, as well as what we are confident and proud of.”
This awareness and acceptance leads to freedom—freedom from a sense of entitlement or pride on the one hand, and freedom from an unhealthy sense of unworthiness or insecurities on the other.
This freedom leads to a freedom in order to commit, to dedicate oneself to a worthy cause, to mission.
In the words of Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ, “to live the Ignatian spirit is to place one’s life within the horizon of a dream larger than life.”
This is the humility of a great soul, the “magna anima,” borne out of gratitude to a gracious and merciful God, one who is always present in a providential and loving way in all experiences and moments in our life.
It is a humility that again arrives at the most fundamental truth of our life. Going back to St. Theresa, humility is truth.
For St. Ignatius, this truth is expressed in his First Principle and Foundation: “The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.” (From a contemporary version by David Fleming, SJ)
It’s a humility to return love for love—love as the core truth of our life.
Humility is truth, the truth that we are loved and loved greatly. This humbles us into gratitude and into excellence, “returning love for love.”—CONTRIBUTED