In the Gospel of Luke (18:9-14) we see the difference between pride and humility. The Pharisee sees himself as better than other men because of his observance of the law. His faith is about what he can do, which is measured by the precepts of the law, and in his pride, he is satisfied that he has done all he needs to do. The precepts set up a minimum standard by which someone could be considered a faithful observer of the law, but it did not account for the greater commandments of love and mercy. On the other hand, the tax collector had the humility to go to the temple with the knowledge of his sinfulness and the awareness of his need for the mercy of God. Jesus does not do away with the precepts which can provide order to one’s life, but reveals to us that trusting in God is more important than trusting in ourselves and what we can do on our own.
What Does It Mean to be Humble?
To be humble is to know the truth about who we are and who God is. Through baptism, we became adopted children of God, created in his own image. No matter what our physical, spiritual, mental, or emotional strengths or weaknesses may be, it is only in our relationship with God that we will discover our true dignity. It offends God when we think we do not need him, that we can reach true happiness without his help. It is also offensive to God when we think that he does not love us or is not interested in who we are or what we do. The only thing that stands between us and God’s plan for our happiness is our unwillingness to place God above everything else in our lives and to be faithful to what he has revealed to us through the Church and the Scriptures.
Look to the Saints for Hope
When we read the lives of the saints, we see they came from every background; some were great sinners, some were attracted to God from their youth, some lived in terrible poverty and painful circumstances their entire lives, and some were kings and queens. However, they all had one thing in common: they all, at some point in their life had the humility to make the decision to love and worship the Lord Our God with all their mind, heart, soul, and strength; which is the only way to temporal and eternal happiness.
Humility enables us to believe the mysteries of our faith that we do not understand. The fact that God became man and died for our sins is truly a mystery, but if we believe it and reinforce that belief with faith formation and prayer it is life-changing.
Do You Believe? Are You Prepared?
It is a remarkable mystery that Jesus loves us so much that he gives us himself, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. When we receive Holy Communion, we are receiving God! This is not a casual event. We should be properly prepared and disposed for this personal intimacy with Jesus Christ. This is the central truth of our faith. Do you believe that when you receive Holy Communion you are receiving God? You do not have to understand, but you do have to believe. If we do not believe we should not receive Holy Communion. The Lord desires that everyone should receive him in Holy Communion, but he demands that we believe and be prepared. This of course is why we have The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) to instruct us about the truths of our faith. This education is important, but it will have no effect if we do not make the personal decision to love and serve God. To be Catholic is a life-long process of learning, growing, serving, and surrendering our will to the will of God. These same truths have been believed by all the saints through the ages who were witnesses of their great love for God by their lives. If we also believe these mysteries of our faith, we would never contemplate leaving this Church which Jesus Christ founded or missing the opportunity to worship this God who loves us so much.
His Grace is Enough
It is only in our relationship with God that we receive the grace necessary to do the things we find so difficult by nature. Through the grace of the sacraments, especially Confession, the Holy Mass, and the Holy Eucharist we are able to forgive the deepest hurts and to be merciful. We can be freed from:
Of course, it isn’t automatic; we must sincerely want to draw close to God and allow him and change our hearts.
If we have the humility to faithfully follow Our Lord in this life, we can be certain that we will be exalted in the next life.
Deacon Tom Fox, K.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.