Humility and Disinterest
(see Lk 14:1.7-14)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
For ages, searching possessions, accumulating properties, establishing good fame, and seizing ruling power over others all have been what people tirelessly strive to achieve at any cost. This tendency seems to be stronger than ever in our today’s society. The world becomes a theater for superpowers to show up their greater might over weaker countries in many fields, economy, military, politics and even religion.
Thirst for wealth and power necessarily leads to confrontation and conflict, oftentimes bloody and destructive. What is happening around us already provides evidences obvious enough for people to be aware that the human race cannot live in peace and love unless they should change their viewpoint on the true meaning of their lives.
In order to make our life meaningful, it is important to distinguish the end from the means. The end, or goal, is something which stands before us and which we have to obtain in order to satisfy our desire or to meet the demand of our moral or religious values.
For students their end is to pass the exam and graduate with honors for a bright future. In order to achieve that end, they have to study harder and harder.
For politicians, those running for leading position in particular, their end is to win elections. In order to achieve their end, they have to convince the people that they are the best leaders.
For people in business, their end is to make bigger interests. In order to achieve their end, they have to work harder and harder.
For those in love, their end is a fairy wedding celebration and a happy family. In order to achieve their end, they have to testify that they really love each other.
For Christians, our end is everlasting life in God’s Kingdom. To guide us on the way to reach our end, Christ gives us just a simple but essential direction: humility and disinterest are means to achieve our end.
Speaking of humility, we understand that this is the virtue which urges us to recognize that, on the one hand, God alone is the Creator of the universe, the Master of history, the Lord and Savior of humanity. On the other, we, human beings, are just creatures, the works of God’s loving and caring hands. In short, to be humble is to know the truth about who God is, and who we are.
As the result of this right knowledge, we are sure that God alone deserves all glory, praise and thanksgiving. For us, this is our great honor and happiness to serve God without seeking recognition, praise or gratitude.
Because we respect and love the image of the Lord God in one and each of us, we should also be more than willing to serve our sisters and brothers with disinterest, being sure that our service of neighbor is the best way for us to render glory, praise and gratitude to God, our heavenly Father for His great and lasting love and mercy toward all of us.
To conclude this homily, allow me to borrow the thoughts of Saint Therese of Avila as a guideline for us on our pilgrimage to the true happiness in heaven:
“I love you, O my Lord and my God, not because I love heaven, nor because I am afraid of Hell. I love you simply because you are so lovely and you truly deserve to be loved.”
The prayer by Saint Therese perfectly goes in tune with What Saint John wrote in his First Letter, chapter 4, verse 10:
“In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins.”
Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.