Whenever I hear the word humility I am transported back to a homily I heard when I was a Jesuit novice. My novice director invited us to heed the advice of both Jesus and our first reading and “humble ourselves the more, and we will find favor with God.” Yet he cautioned us against the humility of the world—a humility that tells us to minimize who we are and downplay our sense of self or accomplishments. Worldly humility is false humility.
Instead, what would happen if we see humility as being truly grounded in the truth of who we are? To see ourselves in this humility is to recognize that it was God who loved us into creation and loves us still despite our brokenness and failings. We are invited to recall how God has surrounded us with grace, blessings, gifts, and talents, and how God has journeyed with us through our struggles, insecurities, failings, and imperfection.
And while this is a lifelong lesson for us, at times, we are given the grace to see that God has created us all this way—loved despite our failings—and it is that same God who calls us into relationships with all our brothers and sisters and the created world among us.
That is precisely the reason Jesus calls us to reach out and include all the excluded. As Fr. Greg Boyle tells us, we are called to extend the circle of kinship so that soon there is no one who is left out. In a struggling church and broken nation, this is risky. But is God who creates a home for the poor and God who invites us to do the same.
Choosing to stand with or invite the excluded may lead us to embarrassment and scorn. But it is true humility, not because we are minimizing ourselves, but because we are elevating the excluded who share our own human dignity given to us by our loving compassionate God.
How are we called to do this during this week? Where is God inviting us to embrace true humility?
Lucas Sharma, S.J., is a Jesuit-in-formation of the Jesuits West Province and a student at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. Previously, he taught sociology at Seattle University. He is especially interested in the intersection between diversity, equity, inclusion, and Jesuit Catholic identity and mission. When not studying, Lucas loves to cook and watch the soap opera General Hospital.