Humility is a virtue we learn from Christ

| Deacon Joseph Kirembwe | August 29, 2013 | 0 Comments

Volunteers serve breakfast to the needy at a shelter in Mount Clemens, Mich., in this photo from 2011. Jesus challenges us to refine our intentions, especially when we do service for others, writes Deacon Joseph Kirembwe. CNS photo / Jim West

I have seen many people — politicians, celebrities, even priests — especially in Uganda where I grew up, demanding honor and respect from others. Being honored and respected is good. But, if we overly demand it from others, it may not be good. The readings of this Sunday challenge us as Jesus’ followers to learn to be humble.

Humility is one of the virtues most characteristic of our Lord. It is a virtue that he explicitly said we should learn from him: “Learn of me that I am meek and humble of heart.” Humility is also one of the most misunderstood and least appreciated of the virtues. It is not a virtue of the weak; rather, it is a virtue of the strong.

The first reading from the book of Sirach proposes that genuine humility is more than merely superficial. It requires some searching, inquiry, reflection and responsible effort. Indeed, humility actually increases the value of the real treasures of life, for it allows our focus to be where it belongs.

In other words, “It is not about me.” The more gifted a person is the more she or he has received — and the more that person should be humble. The more humble a person is the more that person finds the favor of God.

The Gospel blatantly challenges us to live according to true wisdom when we are in the midst of controversy and dispute.

As with the first reading, Jesus extolled humility as a great way to be a valuable and important participant in social life. Jesus is asking us not to think about the immediate rewards for doing what is right and virtuous; he is encouraging us to do what is right in the knowledge that we will be rewarded in heaven.

He knows when we serve those who cannot repay us; he knows when we have allowed ourselves to be humble and to take the lowest place. He also knows that when it is right, we will be given places of glory, and we will be exalted with others who have done the same when we go to heaven.

Doing the right thing

Jesus challenges us to refine our intentions, especially when we do service for others. He encourages us to be exalted not through our greatness, but to serve others out of humility. It is easy to serve others when we know that we will be rewarded for it. But, when we know that those we serve cannot repay us or give us any elevation in social standing or monetary gain, it often makes us think twice about serving them.

Let us pray, dear friends, that throughout this week, we may all think about how we might serve humbly those around us without looking for fame and glory but in wanting to do what is right — what we are called to as Christians.

May God give each of us the grace to incorporate the message of the Gospel in our lives.

Deacon Kirembwe is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary for the Archdiocese of Kampala, Ugan­da. His teaching parish is Holy Spirit in St. Paul.


Sunday, Sept. 1
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
  • Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a
  • Luke 14:1, 7-14


How can you cultivate the virtue of humility more deeply in your life? What obstacles must you overcome?

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Category: Sunday Scriptures