Cycle A 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Mal.1:14-2:2, 8-10; 1 Thess. 2:7-9, 13; Mt. 23:1-12

Today's First Reading was taken from the Book of Malachi [Mal. 1:14-2:2, 8-10]. This Book from the Old Testament begins with God expressing His Divine love for Israel. But as we have heard, God's love was not being returned to Him. God was angry with Judah, Israel and Jerusalem, especially with the priests who had been offering defective animals as sacrifices. Rather than presenting the best of their animals as sacrifices to God, they offered the blind, the lame and the sick animals.

During today's Gospel Reading, [Mt. 23:1-12] we heard how Jesus denounced the scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus began by stating that the scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses' seat, this meaning that they had the authority to teach the Law. As such,

the people were required to obey the Law. Jesus was not attacking the Law but the scribes and the Pharisees who's teachings were not in harmony with their practice. They did not practice what they were preaching to the others.

Jesus continued to condemn the scribes and Pharisees for seeking the places of honour at feasts and in the synagogues. Jesus finished His message by saying that the greatest is the one who is the servant. Today, we reflect upon the powerful words of Jesus where He teaches us a profound lesson about humility, a virtue that has echoed through the ages, transcending religious and cultural boundaries. This passage reminds us of the importance of recognizing our place in the grand scheme of things and how embracing humility can transform our lives.

In this passage, Jesus begins by cautioning against seeking titles and positions of honor, using the titles "Rabbi," "Father," and "Instructor" as examples. He instructs us not to let such titles define our worth or importance. Instead, Jesus directs us to acknowledge the One true Teacher, the Father in heaven, and the ultimate Instructor, the Messiah. This teaching is a call to acknowledge our dependency on God's wisdom and guidance, recognizing that our knowledge and authority are derived from Him.

The Bible is filled with stories of individuals who demonstrated the virtue of humility.  Moses' journey to leadership was marked by a series of events that demonstrated his humble nature. When God first called Moses to lead the Israelites, he responded with doubt and a sense of unworthiness. He questioned his own qualifications and initially resisted the divine call.

In Exodus 3, when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, He said, "I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt." Moses replied, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11). This response reveals his humility and the recognition that he was not relying on his own abilities but on God's guidance and strength.

As Moses continued his mission, he consistently placed his trust in God and acknowledged his own limitations. He faced numerous challenges, including Pharaoh's stubbornness, the Israelites' complaints, and the difficulties of leading a large and unruly group of people through the wilderness. Throughout these trials, Moses maintained his humility, seeking God's wisdom and guidance in every situation.

Moses' life is a powerful example of how humility is not a sign of weakness but a strength that allows God to work through us. His willingness to trust in God's plan and to acknowledge his own limitations serves as an enduring lesson for all of us.

We find many prominent men becoming greater by   expressing humility.

One well-known incident from the life of Sir Isaac Newton that exemplifies his humility relates to a dispute with a fellow scientist, Robert Hooke. Hooke, a prominent scientist of the time, had criticized some of Newton's ideas, particularly his work on optics.

Newton, even though he was deeply passionate about his work and ideas, chose a humble path to resolve the dispute. Instead of engaging in a public and heated argument, he decided to withdraw from the controversy. He stopped presenting his work and refrained from publishing further on the subject for a time.

Humility is a gentle force that speaks volumes through silence. It's the art of recognizing our own imperfections and vulnerabilities while showing respect for the worth of others. True humility doesn't diminish our self-worth; rather, it enhances it by fostering empathy and understanding. It allows us to embrace diverse perspectives and find common ground, bridging divides. In humility, we become open to learning, growth, and the beauty of human connections. Let us remember that in the grand tapestry of life, the most vibrant colors are often found in the humble threads of kindness, service, and acceptance.

Practicing humility in our daily lives can lead to personal growth, stronger relationships, and a more peaceful existence. Here are some tips to help you incorporate humility into your everyday experiences:

Listen actively: Pay close attention to what others are saying without interrupting or formulating your response. Show genuine interest in their thoughts and feelings.

Admit mistakes: Embrace your fallibility and accept responsibility when you make a mistake. It's a chance to learn and grow. Apologize if necessary.

Show gratitude: Express appreciation for the kindness, support, and opportunities you receive. Recognize that you didn't achieve everything solely through your efforts.

Avoid self-promotion: Let your actions and character speak for themselves rather than boasting about your accomplishments or seeking constant validation.

Give credit to others: Acknowledge the contributions and achievements of your colleagues, friends, and family members. Celebrate their successes without envy.

Humility, as taught by Jesus, isn't a sign of weakness but a source of great strength. He tells us that "the greatest among you will be your servant." This paradoxical truth is evident in the life of Mother Teresa, who served the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta, embodying true greatness through her humble service.

It's a virtue that fosters empathy, understanding, and grace in our interactions with the world. Practice humility, and you'll discover the true measure of greatness in service, compassion, and the ability to learn from every soul you meet.