A certain false conception of humility can push some people to deny their qualities, which is a denial of themselves and of God. Whether they simulate their humility or whether they are in good faith, they are wrong, and even blameworthy for the first ones.
A truly humble person recognizes himself as he really is, because humility allows us to see the truth. We have the perfect and most beautiful example given by Our Lady when she proclaims her Magnificat. She knows, acknowledges and proclaims that God has regarded her humility and henceforth, has done great things to her. Saint Paul also recognizes his title of apostle. Neither Our Lady nor St. Paul falsely say that they are nothing and are very conscious of their privileges, but they attribute them to God. It seems to be bold, but it is simply truth. Saint Paul says it clearly: “But by the grace of God, I am what I am; and his grace in me has not been void.”
I think we should and we must be more grateful for the graces of God, first by recognizing them and then by using them for His glory. He accomplishes so many marvels in us that we cannot remain mute. The problem is that most of the time we don’t see them. The reason for our blindness is a lack of a spiritual life which prevents us from recognizing God’s work in us. Yet, we are like the deaf and dumb man of the gospel, and one day, Our Lord has opened our ears too, but it was the ears of our soul. We have received the grace of being able to hear God and to proclaim His marvels but for some reasons such laziness or cowardice, we refuse to listen to Him and to proclaim His Gospel.
The day of our Baptism, Jesus told us: “Ephepheta!” Be you opened! Be you opened to my grace and to my voice so that you will be able to recognize me when I visit you. Alas, the ears of our soul, opened by God’s grace can be closed again by our bad will. Then, we don’t recognize the marvels of God and consequently, we consider our religion as a set of rules and laws which soon become a burden. And when we consider this burden too heavy, we finally give up our duties toward God.
Thus, we have been made able to participate in his sacrifice by our Baptism, but instead of uniting ourselves to Jesus on the Cross, we content ourselves with just attending Mass, because it is a duty. Don’t you understand that it should also be, and mainly, an act of love? It happens sometimes that some people complain, because the Mass is too long. They think it is too long, but they are wrong. How long did Jesus remain nailed on the Cross? Probably too long, don’t you think? If only we could understand, as much as we can, and acknowledge what a marvel the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is, such a thought has no place in our minds, and if by chance Satan tempts you in this area, an act of Faith and of Charity can easily reduce the efforts of the tempter to nothing. But in fact, it will not result in nothing but it will instead be a small victory, because a temptation we have overcome allows us to increase our love for God and to strengthen our will.
Sancta sanctis! This old acclamation from eastern liturgy means “ holy things for holy people.” There are different meanings we can find for this sentence, but one is that only holy people are able to recognize holy things. So, if you don’t marvel every day while considering God’s work, it is because you are not holy enough and you cannot recognize His work. God does great things every day, but because you are not opened you cannot see them. And I bet you anything that your life is not so different than the life of pagans and non-believers. Your eternity will probably not be different too.
So, let us turn to Our Lady and pray to her so that she can help us to open our soul to God. Let us learn from her what humility is. Then, God will do great things to us, and first, he will save us!
- Father Laurent Demets, FSSP. Sermon for the 11th Sunday after Pentacost 2006.