Our readings this week direct us towards the topic of humility. Pope Francis said recently ‘if we can’t be humble – then we can’t be holy’. This is surely a truth which each of us encounter on our spiritual journey. We need look no further than those familiar words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, when she acknowledged that it was God, not her, who had done great things; “He who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.”
It’s good to remember of course that humility is not an inferiority complex, a negative self-image, a cringing, or a fawning obsequiousness. It is not the denial of the talents I have. That would be a lie, and a lie can never be a virtue, in fact an overly bleak assessment of ourselves is a sin. It doesn’t mean that we hide our talents. The Lord warned us about hiding our gifts in the parable of the talents. If we hide them they are lost to us and the community for whom they were given. Humility instead of suppressing our actions, inspires us to do and attempt great things because we are only instruments in the hand of God.
Humility does not suggest that we let others run over us either, that would not be good for them, or for us. Humility does not override justice. After all Jesus himself was simple in life-style and doctrine, meek and humble of heart but he was also thick skinned, and tough as nails.
Humility is truth – it’s a truth that we often fail to see until we ourselves have been humiliated. So, next time this happens to us, lets try, in the midst of the pain that inevitably accompanies humiliation, to give thanks for the humility it offers us. For there can be no holiness without humility.