There is one theme running through the readings today, that of humility.
Humility has been defined as seeing yourself as God sees you. It is knowing who you really are. Humility is accepting the fact that you are not God, that you have faults and failings. But at the same time you are like God — you have been made in His image.
Humility is knowing your place. We see this in Luke 14, when Jesus tells us not to exalt ourselves by sitting at the head of the table. “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Often we speak of humility in a negative way. We say “I was really humbled’ when we talk about a situation in which we were embarrassed or proved wrong. Actually, however, humility is a virtue. It is, in fact, one of the most important virtues for Christians, for without it, we cannot hope to imitate the example of Christ, who “humbled himself to accept death on a cross” as St. Paul wrote to the Philippians.
Again, humility is knowing your place, neither demeaning yourself or exalting yourself. For God has given each of us some gifts but none of us all the gifts the Church needs.
These readings from Sirach and Luke lead us to reflect on our place in the Church — and everyone has a place. There is absolutely no life circumstance which exempts anyone from being a member of the Body of Christ. We all have a place in the Church — and we all have a place in our own parish.
Here is the heart of the message for today: Are you humble enough to admit, “I’m not nearly involved in my parish as I should be?” Are you humble enough to honestly evaluate how you’ve been a steward of your personal talents? Have you shared them with your parish? Can you look at the past year and say, “I played my role in the Church; I used my time and talent in the way God showed me.” I know that some can wholeheartedly answer “Yes” to that question. That, too, is humility. You recognize that you found your role in our parish, and you know, as God knows, that you carried out your role.
I suspect, however, that God is calling many of us to do more in the coming year. Consider taking a step forward to find out how God might want you to be more involved in your parish.
If you’re having a hard time knowing where you fit into your parish, ask God to give you the virtue of humility. Ask him to show you who you really are. As you receive Communion and return to your pew to pray, ask Jesus to show you your place in the parish. Everyone has a role to play. As St. Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, No hands but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless people.”