Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Adam Royal
November 7, 2021 - 11:00 AM
“Beware those who walk around in fine clothes, seek to be greeted by others, and desire places of honor.” Let’s be honest, this is a hard saying. Aren’t we all, at least a little bit, like this? We seek to have nice things and be comfortable. We desire that people recognize us and our achievements. And we want to be honored and respected. But Jesus seems to condemn these things. I think the Lord’s point is that these reasonable goods, too often become the sole purpose of our lives. That is, our pride, our selfishness, takes over and we seek only our good forgetting those around us. Jesus is not condemning us for being human; he is calling us to have humility.
Humility may be the most difficult virtue to attain, but it is also the most necessary. No one has ever made it to heaven without it, because humility is the ability to see the world as it really is. It is to live in the truth, to rightly estimate ourselves and those around us. To become humble requires the grace of God and a lifetime of work. Which means we must start today.
A simple exercise can change the way we see the world and move us towards authentic humility. The simple exercise is this: always assume the best of everyone we meet and assume the worst of ourselves. To think the best of another is not to justify their sins or bad choices, but it is to understand them and to recognize the complexities of human existence that lead us to make decisions. When we see another perform an action that angers us or of which we disapprove we should explain it away, dismiss it as a misunderstanding, or compassionately recognize the many factors that would lead someone to make that decision. We must become quick to forgive and forget.
But not for ourselves. We are Christians. We have been given the grace of God and have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we must hold ourselves to the highest of standards and be quick to condemn our own actions. We must recognize that while Christ shows us limitless patience, forgiveness, and mercy regardless of our sins, we quickly lose our tempers, hold grudges, and judge one another. The standard for us is not other people but God himself.
This simple exercise is extraordinarily demanding. It requires everything of us because it seeks to reshape us and give us the vision of Christ. To perform it every day will change how we see the world. We will begin to realize the extent of our sinfulness and imperfections and the depth of our dependence upon God’s grace. No longer will we be able to look down on others. We will look up to them because we will recognize their inner goodness. We will see as God sees.