The Young Man at the Tomb Holding Fast to Each Other Amen to What We Are The Lord, Our Justice Claiming Our True Name What We Expect The Comma Keeping the Demons Quiet The Dove in the Heavens Thankfulness and Generosity Speaking to Jesus A Promise to Simeon and Us A Sign for You The Voice in the Wilderness How Annunciations Work The Least, the Lost, and the Last Waiting for Christ’s Return Attire for the Kingdom The Cross in a Violent World Come to the Banquet Today Anointing of the Sick Finding the Eternal Change and Continuity Paying Attention The First and the Last Using Bad Consequences How to Talk to God Ready to Forgive Facing the Serpent Priority and Mutuality Three Meals a Day Searching for Pearls The Power of Service Why Walk on Water? The Day Jesus Was Wrong The Promise of the New Name The Two Feet of Love Facing the Hour Looking Backwards Touching the Leper Touching the Leper Misunderstanding God Doing It Poorly God’s Midwife A Name for the Holy Spirit The Coffin So We Do Not Have to Touch Being Better to Each Other Earthquakes and Galilee Lazarus as a Disciple Seeing More Learning from Peter Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/2/14 Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/9/14 Choosing a Master Goodness in Temptation A Pinch of Salt Teaching the Commandments The Freedom of the Baptist Christ’s Broken Body Faith Is More than Looking The Twelve Days of Christmas God’s Timing Resurrection and Transformation The Good That Is Gone Zacchaeus Moments God in the Smallest Things Trust and Community When God’s Commands Do Not Fit The Faith of Honeybees Choosing Hell Following the Dishonest Steward The Ninety-Nine The Freedom to Let Go Beyond Politics The Balance of Humility Not Fearing Fire The Beauty Remains To Welcome as a Samaritan A Moveable Peace Bring On the Women! The Two Sides of Bread Waiting for the Ticket The Groove of the Spirit Jesus Is Not Like Congress A Divine Partnership What Kind of Love Is This? Boston Bombings and God Fishing and Forgiveness A New Kind of Joy Letting Christ Out The Sign of Inversion Our Doodling God A Parable of Love and Jealousy Not Enough Time The Ordinary and the Transcendent The Battle with the Devil God Is Not Kidding The Power of Love We Are the Body of Christ The Arc of Life Waiting for the Final Gift Displacement at Christmas Incarnating God Presenting the Mess Red Cake and Lima Beans A Call to Serve Beyond Asking Jesus’ Commandment Being Ready to Take God in the Foxhole God Is Still Working Adjusting What Is Necessary Learning from the Prophet Amos About Jesus’ Brothers The Most Popular Miracle The Importance of Hunger Eternal Life Influencing Others Finding the Right Proportion Do What You Love Stopping for the Least To Love Irritating People Marriage, Divorce, and Children Asking for More Drinking the Cup Terror in Paris God Will Come Boundaries, Security, and Generosity Feeling Movements of Life A Place to Learn God Uses Small Things Signs of Life When God Says No Christian Optimism From Transition to Call The Long Struggle The Gate of Heaven Common Sense or Hope The Spoiled Son An Oasis for Everyone Jesus’ Last Meal The Curious Omission Finding a Pony Anointing of the Sick A New Commandment After the Ascension Sin and Love The Cross and Joy The Call to Follow A Call for Humility Violence in America Two Thoughts on Prayer Live Today with Thanksgiving An Examined Life The Narrow Gate Serving Ourselves Losing Sheep Using Dishonest Wealth The Door and the Chasm Faith and Duty Distance and More Not Growing Weary Making a Difference Inadequacies and Grace Finding God Facing Turmoil Jesus, Remember Me The Lion and the Lamb Wild Like John Let Go in Love A Wider Christmas The Last Six Miles God’s Big Plan The Remnant The Salt of the Earth Beyond the Ten Commandments Love Your Enemy Focusing Our Worry How Evil Works Our Transfiguration Re-membering Our Lives Our Story If Only The Time for Hope A Second Greeting of Peace The Eucharist and Welcoming Practicing Non-Violence The Work of Forgiveness Why Are You Looking Up at the Sky? The Mystery of Salvation Being Thankful How Is a Burden Light? The Problem with Sparrows Eternal Creation Patient Vigilance Buried Treasure Thinking Again Where You Do Not Want to Go The Courage to Speak Humility and Truth Do Something Good Knowing the Song Acting Against Evil God Will Come What We Can Say Senseless Violence Invitation as a Threat What Belongs to God Two Commands, Side by Side Burdens We May Not See Foolish or Wise Accepting the Consequences Serving the Least Watching for Jesus Camels and Gnats Becoming Smaller The Christmas Barber The Ring of the Kings The Freedom and Faith of John the Baptist Zebedee The Opioid Crisis Approaching, Grasping, Lifting Up What God Intends The Battle with Satan Following Elijah and Moses Standing in Truth A God of Love or Condemnation When Life Turns Not Fully Prepared The Wounds We Carry Selling Onions Son of Encouragement To Love as God Loves Engagement with the World Doubting Disciples Sabbath Avoiding the Diabolical Persistent Hope Speaking the Word Within Us “And Also With You” Capital Punishment I Will Go On Three Wise Choices Will You Also Leave? Show No Partiality Carrying the Cross for Whom? Outside the Lines The Camel and the Needle Ask First for Sight What God Sees Only God The Arc of the Universe Turmoil, Fear, and Dismay The Gift of the Desert A Punch for the Holidays Politics and Religion Jesus Always Understands One Body God’s Love The Call Blessings and Woes Imitating God’s Mercy The Blind Leading the Blind The Devil’s Agenda Looking Closer, Looking Beyond Accepting God’s Love Mob Thinking The Easter Egg Fishing with Uncle Mike Loving Like Jesus God’s in Love with This World

The Balance of Humility

August 25, 2013
Father George Smiga
Luke 13:22-30

Tom Brokaw, who for years was the anchor on The NBC Nightly News, began his television career in a small station in Omaha, Nebraska. From there he went on to serve in Los Angeles and Washington, but his big break was when he was promoted to be the co-chair of The Today Show in New York City. From that time forward, his face had national coverage. It was plastered on billboards throughout the city. Brokaw became accustomed to people recognizing him on the street, coming up to congratulate him, and asking for his autograph.

His favorite story about this begins one day when he was browsing through Bloomingdale’s. He saw in the corner of his eye that a man was watching him. Brokaw knew the routine, and sure enough in a few minutes the man came forward, pointing his finger and saying, “Tom Brokaw. You’re Tom Brokaw, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am,” said Brokaw.

“And you used to do the morning news on WKTV in Omaha, Nebraska.”

“Yes, I did,” said Brokaw, waiting for the congratulations that were soon to come.

“I knew it!” said the man, “I recognized you as soon as I saw you.” Then he paused and said, “Whatever happened to you?”

We would say that in this story Tom Brokaw was humbled. His view of himself and his fame was knocked down to size. It is this “knocking down to size” that we might first think of when we hear Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel: “The first will become last.” What Jesus is saying could indicate that when we are overly proud of our success, abilities, or talents, we can be prepared to be knocked down to size.

Now to understand Jesus’ words this way is certainly valid, but it is not complete. Jesus not only says that the first will become last, he also says that the last will become first. He does not only say that the exalted will be humbled, but also that the humbled will be exalted. So instead of spending our time today discussing the various ways that our pretensions need to be knocked down, it might be more profitable for us to ask, “What do we need to do in order to be built up?” To answer that question, we have to understand what Jesus means when he talks about being last and being humbled.

Humbling ourselves does not mean that we negate our value or that we disdain our abilities and talents. Humbling ourselves means that we accept the truth of who we are. Accepting that truth is always a balance. On one hand we are people of tremendous worth. We are made in the image of God. We have been saved by the blood of Christ. We have talents and abilities that we can use to serve others and build God’s kingdom. Through our baptism, we share in the very life of God. On the other hand, we are imperfect people. We are sometimes selfish and demanding. We want to have our own way, and we have fits when we do not get it. We make bad decisions and refuse to learn from them.

Living in the truth of who we are means that we must accept that we are both valuable and flawed, both holy and sinful, both generous and weak. It is only by accepting all of this that we find humility. It is only by accepting all that we are that we come to see what it means to live in the truth about ourselves. If knowing that truth means that we take the last place, that is exactly where Christ wants us to be.

So the next time you are introduced to someone, don’t fall over yourself trying to mention all of your accomplishments. What is really important will in time emerge. When your friend or your spouse surpasses you in some ability or achievement, don’t waste your time making excuses. Simply admit that he or she might have a talent that you do not possess. When you mess things up, don’t get angry with yourself. Apologize for the mistake and move on, owning your weakness but at the same time claiming your value as a person.

It is living in the truth of this balance that we achieve humility. Living humbly is living honestly. If living this way gains us the last place in the minds of some people, so be it. Because when we live our lives in the truth of who we are, we rise to the first place in the eyes of others and in the eyes of God.

Change this in Theme Options
Change this in Theme Options