Bottom line: Humility is hard but there is nothing more beautiful or more valued.
Today we have one of my favorite Scripture verses, Sirach says "my child, conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts". (3:17)
Now, I don't want to discourage gifts - especially with my birthday coming up! This year the Hispanic community is using the occasion to raise funds for the Called to Serve as Christ campaign. Gifts are nice especially when they embody care and love. Most of us don't need more stuff, but a well thought out gift is wonderful. Thoughtfulness makes the gift. That's why planned giving is powerful. A guy may be in debt but if in a planned way he gives a percentage of his income his finances begin to turn around. A thoughtful planned gift has power.
Protestants are better at this than Catholics. Studies show the average Protestant gives twice as much as the average Catholic. Evangelicals give four times more. Those trends go back before the clergy abuse scandal. It doesn't mean Catholics are less generous but we tend to give in a more emotional than thought out way. A thoughtful planned gift has great power.
Yet even greater than a gift is humility. "My child, conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts".
Archbishop Sartain has given a magnificent example of humility. You probably know that today the Cathedral hosts a Mass and reception to wish the archbishop well as he prepares for retirement. On Wednesday he has a luncheon with priests. These events signal his transition to retirement. According to canon law the moment Pope Francis accepts his retirement, coadjutor archbishop Etienne automatically becomes "ordinary" - the one in charge.
In his decade with us Archbishop Sartain has inspired some wonderful young men to seek the priesthood and he has cared for older priests - especially those facing serious illness. A few years ago he undertook a major campaign - Called to Serve as Christ - to meet the needs of elderly priests and sisters. As you can imagine it has involved an enormous amount of work - organizing, meeting with donors and series of dinners promoting the campaign. He could have put this off. He has a good reason - the crippling back ailment that saps his energy and stamina. Still he accepted the burden with good humor and focus on the other person. That's humility in action.
Humility doesn't mean saying, "Oh, poor me. I'm such a failure." No, humility begins with gratitude - the daily effort to recognize that what I have and what I am comes from God. Humility is the daily battle to use those gifts not for my glory but for God's glory.
As we hear in the Gospel humility focuses on the needs of others - the crippled, the lame, the blind. You know who they are. In our own families we have members crippled and blinded. Humility includes the willingness to take the lowest place, to stop worrying what people think about me. I might feel more comfortable with screen time enclosed in my own world with my smart phone or TV, but humility means getting out where I may not be number one.
We have families and parishes so we can learn humility. Those are places where we don't always get our way. Humility is hard but there is nothing more beautiful or more valued. "My child, conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts". Amen.
Key to Relationships (Audio version of homily for 22nd Sunday, Cycle C - 2016)
From Archives (Homilies for Twenty-Second Sunday, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru