You may have heard of the book title, Humility and How I Achieved It. Since truly humble people don’t typically recognize their own humility, of course this is a joke. In generations past, individuals would have been more likely to get this than today, because humility is not as readily valued in modern secular culture.
Jesus calls his disciples to humility in our daily Mass readings this week.
First, in Luke 9, the disciples wanted to stop those who were casting out demons but “were not of their company.” Jesus tells them that “whoever is not against you is for you” — in essence, letting them know that God will use people they didn’t think were worthy of their cause.
Then Jesus rebukes his disciples for wanting to call fire down on the enemies of Israel, the inhospitable Samaritans. The disciples needed to know that even Samaritans can potentially respond to God’s call.
Finally, we have the account of Jesus taking a child to himself and saying, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”
The point of all this is that the disciples needed to stop looking down on others but instead see themselves as unworthy. Humility is the launchpad for greatness in the kingdom of God.
Think of the life of Moses
Consider Moses. He was a member of Pharaoh’s household and seemed destined for greatness. But then he took it upon himself to kill a belligerent Egyptian–a bad decision in Egypt. As a result, Moses spent the next several decades of his life on the run, and it looked like he was no longer worthy to rule. But this had the effect of making him humble. When God finally called him, Moses said, in effect, “Are you sure you want me?” Even after all his subsequent achievements, we’re told that Moses was “more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Num 12:3).
Think of your life
What about you? Have you ever been abased? If so, then perhaps God was allowing you to cultivate humility so that you can be more ready for his service. Do you ever feel washed up–like it’s too late for you to make the most of your life? Well, these might be the right conditions for God to use you anew. You’re not washed up but washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. When this is finally your only cause for boasting, then God can use you mightily.