Humility will be my topic today and I will talk about people who are humble. In Rome there is a centuries old tradition that says that on Holy Thursday the pope must go to the Basilica of Saint John and wash the feet of 12 men to make visible what happened at the Last Supper. Ten years ago, on Holy Thursday, Pope Francis went to a juvenile detention center and washed the feet of eight teenage Christian boys, two Muslim boys and two Christian girls. Pope Francis said that it is the mind of Christ that we be humble servants. And means that we serve everyone… including those who are not in the mainstream of our society. He said that Jesus came to serve the sinners and tax collectors and the Pharisees and lepers and the rich and the poor.
When St. Paul thinks about humility he thinks about Jesus of Nazareth and his desire to be a servant. St. Paul says that Jesus did not cling to his equality with God. Instead, he humbled himself and took on our human nature and became a servant. In other words, serving others was on his mind. Whenever we serve others, we take on the mind of Christ.
During the Last Supper, after washing the feet of His disciples, Jesus said, “I come to you as one who serves.” Jesus was a humble servant and the word humble comes from the Latin word humus which means soil. Humble persons have their feet planted firmly on the ground. They are not haughty. Humble persons are not arrogant or conceited. Humble persons are modest and unassuming. They are heavily burdened and they trust that God will help them to carry their burdens.
The first reading for today’s liturgy was about humility. The prophet Zechariah told the people, “You have done a good job of rebuilding the Temple and now God will choose a new king for you. And the new king will be so poor that he will come to town riding on a donkey.” In those days, rich people had horses and poor people had donkeys. That’s the significance of the donkey in the first reading today. People just knew that their new king belonged to the lower class as soon as they saw that he was riding on a donkey. No one knows why; but God always seems to choose the meek and humble of heart to be the leaders of His faith-filled people.
550 years later, Jesus rode into the Holy City on a donkey on Palm Sunday. Jesus predicted his humble entrance into Jerusalem in today’s Gospel when he said, “I am meek and humble of heart.” Jesus said, “This is my identity. I am meek and humble.” Jesus was the leader of the New Covenant and his humble status was visible in that he was riding on a donkey.
His parents came from the lower class…They were working class people. Jesus never pretended to be someone special. And his friends were not special. They were considered to be lower class because they were fishermen.
In today’s gospel Jesus is talking about his disciples when he says that His Father has revealed His wisdom to the little ones. When Jesus is talking about the little ones, he is referring to his humble disciples, those lower-class fishermen from Galilee. So, what is the wisdom that God gave to these little ones, these fishermen who were meek and humble of heart? God gave them the wisdom that says, “We might be meek and lowly, but we have many freedoms. Even though we are the lower class we have many spiritual freedoms.
We are free to be faithful to Jesus when others are turning away from him. We are to pray many times each day. No one can stop us. Free to see God’s goodness in each person. Free to follow the Ten Commandments and the Eight Beatitudes. Free to forgive those who have injured us. Free to work for the common good and free to serve those who are suffering with poor health.” They were poor in the eyes of the world but rich in the realm of wisdom.
The gift of wisdom helped them to see what really has lasting value: Prayer, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, serving others and doing God’s will.
We pray today that we might be humble in the pattern of Christ. That means that we pray that we might be well grounded and fully trusting that God will help us with our burdens.