Humility is a major theme in the upcoming weekend’s readings. For instance, in the first reading (Sir 18:9-14), we will hear, “The one who serves God willingly is heard; his petition reaches the heavens. The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds…”
In this weekend’s Gospel (Lk 18:9-14) Jesus relates the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying near each other. The Pharisee says, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity…” and continues with a laundry list of sins that others have committed but not him. Hmmm. Does this behavior sound vaguely familiar this election season?
But Jesus draws attention to the repentant tax collector nearby who prays, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus says the tax collector who humbles himself will be justified when he goes home. Jesus predicts that the self-righteous Pharisee will be humbled.
Humility has been defined as transparency, self-awareness of one’s own strengths and weaknesses, holy actions and sinful behavior. Perhaps it is also a realization of “there but for the grace of God go I.” Humility helps us be merciful and to recognize our need for God. A humble spirit may help us listen and interact civilly with others, even those we may not agree with- especially with those who do not agree with us.
Pope Francis has done much to model humility in our Church. For instance, when his pontificate was first announced he requested that we pray for him and he identified himself as a sinner. He went on to continue to choose a simple lifestyle, and he has been willing to meet with a wide variety of people, including future saints and sinners. And people have taken notice. Someone I know who is not Christian told me how much they like Pope Francis because “he is not judgmental, he embodies what Christianity should be about.” (Yes, they truly used the word “embodies”! Very incarnational!)
Pope Francis has also actively sought out opportunities to build bridges with those of other faith traditions. It has even been joked in Greek and Latin circles that Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew from Greek Orthodox Church are BFF’s! For example, they have met together to pray for peace in Assisi along with those of other faiths. Together they have met with refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos.
Won’t you join us this weekend as we follow Pope Francis’ example and participate in ecumenical dialogue? This Sunday afternoon at 3pm in our new social hall, we will welcome Fr. Lucas Christiansen, Assistant Priest of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church from the west side of our city and his parishioners who choose to join him! Please join us!! Refreshments will be offered for all!
Fr. Luke Christiansen