Humility – Is It Missing In Our World Today?
Anywhere in the world, we may have heard some news about violent road rage accidents. In Manila (where traffic congestion is a serious issue), a cyclist was shot dead by a car driver due to this kind of accident. Prior to the shooting incident, the car driver blocked and confronted the cyclist which resulted to heated arguments and a scuffle to which the latter managed to headlock the car driver. CCTV footage revealed that the cyclist released the driver and even peered into the side window of the latter’s car apparently saying something to him. However, as the cyclist was ready to leave with his bicycle, the car driver already armed with a gun got out of his car and hurriedly walked towards the cyclist and shot him at point-blank range in the head and fired four more at him. The car driver fled but eventually got arrested and was put behind bars.
We really don’t know what exactly transpired between the car driver and the biker (and other antecedents of the case) but definitely the anger or the act of revenge on the part of the driver could have been avoided if only the virtue of “humility”, even just a bit of it, was exercised. Or, the cyclist could have saved his life if only he was able to avoid the “head-on collision”, so to speak.
Have you experienced racing to the front line just to get a seat on a subway or metro rail trains and metro buses, insensitive to think of others, never caring that there is someone in front of the line? Or probably, do you easily flare up whenever challenged, corrected or criticized by other people? How about acting as if you know everything that no one can interrupt you during meetings and discussions, because you feel you’re the most intelligent and privileged in the group, thinking that your views are correct and should be considered. Or, do we feel like the Pharisees (just like in the Gospel Reading today), where we feel we have every right to exalt ourselves and expect honor and respect throughout our lives? These forms of haughtiness would take a while for humility to fully seep in due to these notions: that it’s normal to act and feel that way; that this kind of attitude is acceptable to modern norms; and that it has already been ingrained in one’s system, as such may be difficult to get rid of it. While the change to be better doesn’t happen overnight, however, it’s possible. And YES, everyone can try and strive to be better. As the old adage says, if there’s a will, there’s a way!
Anger, pride and arrogance do not only happen on roads and streets, but likewise in our own homes, schools, workplaces, politics, social media and even in parish church communities. It’s not only common and flagrant to the rich and famous, politicians, and other successful people but it also happens to each of us, just like the two men mentioned above. See, humility is not easy to achieve, hence it’s a challenging virtue particularly when one’s ego is at stake and that personal boundaries are provoked. That’s the reason why some people currently see it as a weakness or a handicap to one’s success which is absolutely frustrating. As such, true humility is nowhere to be found; it’s somewhat scarce nowadays. In fact, some people see it as out of fashion especially in this modern competitive world we have today.
However, we should remember that God wants us to be humble. He is encouraging everyone to achieve and embrace humility as it is an essential virtue which gives hope to our Christian faith. Jesus reminded us in one of the readings today that we should not emulate what the scribes and pharisees did before: “…..they preach but they do not practice. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’” Jesus further stated, Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” God is telling us to humble ourselves over and over again as inscribed in the Scriptures because He wants to bless and exalt us in the end.
We can exercise humility not only in large-scale activities but also in the minute details of our day to day life. If pride and arrogance overwhelm us, and the grace of humility seems to shy away from us, we can always turn to God and seek His help. If we are humble in what we do even in small deals, then we’ll be at peace even in big things with everyone and with ourselves.
Contrary to what others say that humility is difficult to achieve; developing and expressing humility in everything we do, on the other hand, is actually easy if we’ve learned to wholeheartedly embrace it with no show offs and pretense. I think most of us have a tinge of pride. We love to hear praises and rejoice of our achievements, of our PhD and MBA degrees, of our innate talents and acquired skills, of our 6-7 figure monthly salary, of our fascinating position titles in the corporate world, of our thousands online Facebook friends and millions of Twitter and Instagram followers and share all these happiness with our loved ones and friends. Sure, we can do that! No problem at all. But we have to nurture and use these talents and achievements in accord with God’s commandments. As mentioned earlier, we can develop and learn how to properly express humility even in big things, much more in smaller ones, and we need God’s help to do this. Still remember what the Little Prince imparted to us? What is essential is invisible to the eye, that is, the meaningful things are more important, a little more of humility would be prudent in the eyes of God.
Pope Francis has something to say about humility. He stated, there are three things, three steps that separate us from Jesus: wealth, vanity and pride”. The Holy Father further explained, “possessions are so dangerous: they lead you immediately to vanity, and you believe you are important”; but “when you believe you are important, your head swells and you become lost”. This is the reason that Jesus reminds us of the path: “many that are first will be last, and he who is first among you will make himself the servant of all”. He suggested to everyone in the Church that “we too must ask Him: teach us this path, this science of service, this science of humility, this science of being last in order to serve the brothers and sisters of the Church”.
St. Mother Teresa led an exemplary life practicing the virtue of humility with a sense of awe and passion in the midst of the real world. Here is one of her brilliant quotes on humility: “It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal”.
As they say, there is wisdom in humility and there is no way we can achieve this virtue through anger, arrogance and pride. Going back to the road rage incident, if only the car driver and the cyclist understood each other and humbly threshed out their issues and have forgiven each other, there could be no fight between the two of them and the fatal accident could have been prevented. In the same manner, we can build a peaceful world, free of war, if only leaders of countries will be more kind, understanding and forgiving.
Humility may be scarce or missing in some of us but we have to be reminded always that all the comforts that we have on earth are just temporary. We have to learn to bow down if and when necessary. According to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, “everything hinges on humility “ as it “opens the doors of the hearts of others and to the heart of God”.
Psalm 131 will sum up all what have been indicated above: “LORD, my heart is not proud; nor are my eyes haughty. I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me. Rather, I have stilled my soul, Like a weaned child to its mother, weaned is my soul. Israel, hope in the LORD, now and forever”.
Let us pray to God that He may grant us the grace of humility to overcome pride and the strength to battle adversities and evil doings due to our sinful pride. We pray Lord Jesus that we may choose and imitate Our Lady, Your Mother, who humbled herself, in every way. May some of us learn to love, honor and venerate the Blessed Mother because as Jesus said, the humble gets ahead and the meek gets to inherit the earth, and that God will eternally reward us too for embracing the virtue of humility and for doing good works. Let’s strive and exercise humility in our day to day life, of being last here on earth so that we’ll be considered first after life. Amen.
Have a great day!
p.s. ctto for the featured photo