A REFLECTION OF THE HEART
29th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
A Lesson On Humility
A Reflection by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
GOSPEL: (MARK 10:35-45)
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him, “Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, “We can.”
Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
The Gospel of the Lord./ Praise to you, Lord, Jesus Christ.
One of the greatest lessons Scripture has to teach us is that there is greatness in being humble. In fact in today’s Gospel Jesus said: “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be a slave of all.” But what is humility? The word humility is derived from the Latin word “Humilis” literally means “on the ground.” Humus means “earth.” It is the same reason why we are called humans….i.e. because we are earthlings! Genesis 2:7 teaches – “The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils of life and the man became a living being.” God is a powerful God, He could have chosen to create human beings in any way he wanted, but he chose to fashion man using earth. There must be a reason for that. God wants to teach mankind that greatness is founded on humility – i.e. to keep our feet close to earth where we belong. For you are dust, and unto dust, you shall return. Being humble is being close to the earth. Humility, therefore, should be our nature. Man is supposed to be humble.
Today’s Gospel text is once again teaching us a lesson on Humility. It relates to us that the apostles James and John approached Jesus making a ridiculous and very insensitive request i.e. to share in his power. It was so insensitive considering the fact that at that time our Lord Jesus was contemplating and talking about his impending suffering and death. It was like the most embarrassing moments on the part of the apostles. To top it all, the rest of the apostles began to feel indignant of the two apostles not because of their insensitivity but because they too have a hidden agenda. All of them have the desire to take the highest position in the Kingdom of God. All of them wanted to be first. All of them were actually seeking power and position in the Kingdom of God. But our Lord Jesus made it very clear to them, that true power and greatness come from man’s willingness to serve, to be a servant, to suffer and even to die out of love. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Allow me to share with you a story teaching a lesson that Greatness and Humility come hand in hand.
(Story unknown source) Many years ago, a rider came across some soldiers who were trying to move a heavy log without success. The corporal was standing by as the men struggled. The rider asked the corporal why he wasn’t helping. The corporal replied, “I am the corporal; I give orders.” The rider dismounted, went up and stood by the soldiers and as they were lifting the log, he helped them. With his help, the log got moved. The rider quietly mounted his horse and went to the corporal and said, “The next time your men need help, send for the Commander-in-Chief.” After he left, the corporal and his men found out that the rider was George Washington.
The message of the story is clear. Being great and being humble go hand in hand. Simplicity and humility are two hallmarks of greatness. Humility does not mean self-demeaning behavior. To be humble is not to put ourselves down, it is exalting Jesus up. Humility is not a sign of weakness, it is actually a virtue of the strong.
Our Lord Jesus taught us this lesson on humility not only by words but he showed us an example by being obedient to the Father, and even sacrifice himself accepting death on the Cross. That was Jesus’ greatest manifestation of humility and that is being obedient unto death. Humility is strange. If you think you possessed it, you probably don’t have it. But if you have it, you most probably are not aware you possessed it. Someone says “I won a medal for my humility, but it was taken away when I began to wear it.” Humility should always be God’s grace that we ask from him in our day to day life. Mother Teresa says:
“These are the few ways we can practice humility:
To speak as little as possible of one’s self.
To mind one’s own business.
Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.
To avoid curiosity.
To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
To pass over the mistakes of others.
To accept insults and injuries.
To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.
To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
Never to stand on one’s dignity.
To choose always the hardest.”