In the gospel of Matthew (18:1) Jesus is asked by his disciples, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” And he replies, “Whoever becomes humble like a child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven”. Humility is a necessary feature of those who are great in heaven.
In the secular world in which we live, greatness is based on wealth or fame or a special ability but certainly not on humility. But, Jesus taught that the standards of greatness in this world are not what counts in His Kingdom.
So the question is, what does it mean to be humble? The Catechism of the Catholic Church (526) teaches us that “To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little.”
Humility exemplified in the Pope
Humility is one of the main pillars of Christian life. Saint Augustine wrote of humility (Letters, 118), “If you ask me what is the essential thing in the religion and discipline of Jesus Christ, I will reply, first humility, second humility and third humility.”
Pope Francis is a poster child for humility in the way he lives his life.
As Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he lived in a small apartment, used public transportation and cooked his own meals.
As Pope, he lives in a guesthouse, drives a small used car around the Vatican and may still cook his own meals. Certainly he carriers his own luggage.
When elected Pope, Pope Francis received eight titles. The first is that of “Vicar of Christ” which implies that he has the same power and authority that Christ had over the church. And the eighth title is that of “Servant of the Servants of God”. The only way he can truly serve the church as “Vicar of Christ” and “Servant of the Servants of God” is to do so with great humility.
True humility acknowledges God
To live our lives with humility does not mean we cannot achieve wealth, fame or success using our God given talents. But, it does mean that we acknowledge that our achievements are the direct result of the gifts God has bestowed upon us. And to do so with humility means we must share the fruits of those gifts, especially with those in need.
“Humility is an elusive virtue because if you think you have it, you probably don’t. Humility is something which can be experienced even if it cannot be explained” (Fr Longenecker, April 23, 2015)
Let us pray to the Holy Spirit for the gift of true humility and acknowledging all that we have as great gifts from God.
Deacon Ray Lukesic