The Humble and the Arrogant

August 28, 2022 – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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In the first reading from the Book of Sirach, the author advices us to be humble because humility pleases God and because humility is God’s attitude. It says, “My child, conduct yourselves with humility… humble yourselves the more, the greater you are.” This was an advice and a reminder to Israel who had become powerful and rich. Their kings and princes were given honor and titles, power and riches, yet, it was not be forgotten that everything comes from the Lord.

It is only in humility that the people will stay grounded and connected with God and with the people, who they were called to serve.

Humility, therefore, acknowledges our nothingness before God and that everything we enjoy in this life are gifts from the Lord. We are not to hoard power and riches or material wealth for our own benefit alone but must be shared to all and especially to the least. This will make a nation, a community lifting up one another.

Hence, this reminds us that not in pride and not in arrogance that we will be truly confident and assured. Pride and arrogance only reveal our insecurities and evil desires. The proud and the arrogant person expresses an unquenchable and insatiable desire to hoard and to have more, demanding others to be served, thus, becoming self-entitled. This attitude leads to corruption, to abuses, to oppression and hence, to destruction of the self and of the community.

In fact, in the Gospel, this is what Jesus was saying in his encounter with the proud and arrogant Pharisees. The Pharisees, who at the time of Jesus, were at the pedestal of the Jewish Community enjoyed privileges, titles and honor. Indeed, in many encounters of Jesus with them, Jesus would challenge them to look beyond themselves, beyond their comforts, beyond their secured places, and beyond the letters of the law.

Moreover, Jesus, with the parable he gave, now, challenges the Pharisees to look beyond their entitlements that made their hearts proud and arrogant to the point that they have become indifferent to those in need, and ungrateful to the Lord the giver of everything.

The Pharisees in the Gospel, have become an image for us who have grown self-entitled, proud and arrogant. We may not be far from this because the moment we use our position, our status, our social class, our educational attainment, our influence, in order to advance our self-interest and to demand praises and honor from others, then surely, we do that at the expense of others. We, therefore, would not think of others, but only ourselves. Thus, having a bloated ego and a self-entitled heart is surely ungrateful, unkind, can be cunning and malicious, and even abusive and corrupt in his or her relationships and dealings with people whether in work, business and daily affairs with others.

Thus, the parable in today’s Gospel reminds us of the advice in the first reading, to be humble – not to seek places of honor and the recognition of others through our pride and arrogance.

This paves the way for us to be more connected, grounded and aware of the needs of others and not just our needs. That is why, we also find in the parable the call to be generous and kind particularly to those who cannot repay our generosity. This means that when we make ourselves humble enough, then, we are also able to see and recognize the least in our community by being generous and kind.

There are now three invitations on this Sunday for us to be humble.

First, be grateful. A grateful heart humbles a person because we will be able to recognize that we are not entitled at all to receive God’s graces in life. God remains good to us not merely because of what we have done but because, God us simply loving and kind to us.

Second, seek love not praises. Remember, no matter how rich and powerful we have become, no matter how educated, influential, or famous we may have been, at the end of our life, people remember us on how loving we have become and how much love we have given for others.

Third, give out of generosity, and not with the intention to gain favor, to seek praise nor to merely advance our self-interest because when that becomes our intention, then, it is not generosity. It is rather the work of the abusive and corrupt, the arrogant and of the evil one.

So, be grateful, seek love, and give out of generosity. Kabay pa.


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