Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today Christ taught us the value of humility, of doing things in humility, and seeking not human glory in all our dealings. The prophet Sirach in the first reading today also put the emphasis on the relations between greatness and humility, that the greater someone is, the more that he or she should be humble, and to seek not things that lie beyond our capabilities and our reach.
Brethren, too many times have we heard about mankind trying to reach things beyond what they can do, that they became too absorbed in that pursuit and forget about anything else. It is very often that we even sacrificed much in order to get to that destination, to that desire that we seek to achieve. More often than not, this involved sacrificing even those dear to us. What makes mankind so desperate for such aims and targets that they devote so much for them?
That is because we often become immersed in our pride and in our desire, so much that we simply cannot let go when things do not go the way we wanted it. We always want to be the first in everything, the first in getting new items from the store, the first in our academic, economic, and other performances, that we fear so much from losing out to another people. In our deep pride, we cannot bear to lose to another person, because to us, there is often no consideration for being the second place.
It is in our human nature that we want to be preeminent, and first in all things, and that is our pride, that we ought to stand alone at the top without rivals. Yet remember, brothers and sisters, it is exactly the same sin that had brought down the greatest angel and the mightiest angel of all the angelic host of heaven. Who is that? Precisely, it is Lucifer, the false lightbringer, now known as Satan, the evil one, the devil, the deceiver, and the great enemy.
Lucifer was created as the most brilliant of all of God’s angels, the most perfect and beautiful of all God’s angels. It was told that he was created with twelve wings of a seraph, with incredibly bright light illuminating his figure, and hence his name, Lucifer, the lightbringer and the morning star. To him had been given power, glory, and might in addition to his beauty and wonder, by the Lord the Creator of all.
Yet, in his heart, due to his seemingly perfect beauty, power, and glory, he began to form dissensions and dissatisfactions with being a servant of God, and instead, in his great pride, he wanted to rise above all things, and take over the throne of God, as the ruler of all the creation and over all of heaven, as written in the Book of the prophet Isaiah. That he will raise his throne above the stars of heaven and ascend to the heights of heaven, seated on the throne of God, such are the things in his heart, the schemes that he plotted against God.
And yet, he failed. In his great pride he had sought to be like the proud guest who seek to reach the first place in the banquet, and he failed, badly. He was struck down and cast down from the heavens, as we read in the Book of the Revelation, when the Archangel Michael and the angels of heaven fought with the dragon, that is Lucifer, and defeated him with the power of God, and cast him away from heaven. The Book of the prophet Isaiah continued with the lamentation on the fate of Lucifer, as the fallen morning star, that had fallen and would never rise again as he had once boasted.
Indeed, as Christ had said to the Pharisees in the feast, that the one who seek to be the first will be made last, and will be relegated to the last position in great shame and humiliation. Truly, Lucifer, once the brightest, most brilliant, and mightiest angel of heaven, is now a shadow of his former self, known to us as the great enemy and the evil one, twisted, broken, and marred in his beauty, all because of his pride and lack of humility before God.
On the other hand, the Archangel Michael, whom we know as the chief of the angelic host and the leader of the angels of God, is made such not because of his pride, his power, or his might. Instead, the Archangel Michael was known for his great humility and obedience to the will of God, and it was indeed told that he always trembled before the presence of the Lord. That humility made the Lord to choose him as the leader of His angelic host, in the same way as the humble guest who seek the worst and last seat, is invited by the host to a position of honour.
After quoting the example of the archangels, of Lucifer and Michael and the comparison between them, and how it relates to the lessons we learn today from our readings and the Lord Himself, of the importance of humility in our lives, let us take some time to reflect on our own lives, whether we have always let our pride get in our way, and whether we have let our pride to take over us, as it had done to Lucifer.
To be humble is not easy, as temptations will certainly be great. We tend to compete with one another, not least in this increasingly more fast-moving and competitive world, where everyone’s success in life is measured by their achievements and by the things that they are able to do better than others, fueling even more and more competition in a vicious cycle, that if not controlled may result in excessive competition and everyone sought to overcome one another, at the expense of others as best as possible.
Yet, the Lord challenged us today to be different, to dare to be different from others, to be humble in our increasingly prideful world, in a world where people increasingly care less about one another, in a world where everyone vies to be the first ahead of others, and to achieve things that they are not able to do. The Lord challenged us to know the meaning of humility and the value of satisfaction, of knowing that we truly have enough in our lives, that all that we need have truly been taken care of by the Lord our God in various ways.
Christ had taught us the meaning of humility, and also teach us love, how to love one another, and how to love God. He has shown us all that through His own actions, that He, who is God, and who is divine and all-powerful, is willing to take the last seat of all, the most humiliating seat of all, to be born into a poor family of a carpenter and born in a dirty stable, even though He is indeed a King, King of all kings no less, the Master of all the Universe.
It does not just stop at that, as He lived humbly and did not seek glory for Himself. Many times the people who were amazed at His miracles and powers sought to force Him and to make Him their king, as the king of a renewed Israel, and yet, Jesus walked away from all that, and not only that, He even willingly walked towards His own death.
Yes, brethren, in His great humility, He who is God, let Himself be captured, tortured, mocked and spat at. He was given many lashes and eventually after carrying His own cross, was nailed to that cross on Calvary. Such is His great humility that He endured all sufferings intended for us, and took them all upon Himself. His wounds marked all the sufferings He had to suffer in our place, that we may live. He died, and died a humiliating death, a criminal’s death on the cross.
And yet? He who has died for all of us has risen from the dead! He has triumphed and conquered over the prideful one, Satan, the old Lucifer, whose pride had brought him from glory to humiliation. Christ had risen to His glory and made the greatest and most prominent of all. The Lord Himself had proven His own words today through His own actions, which He made out of pure love for all of us, that we all may live, that He had humbled Himself to die a humiliating death, despite being the Master of all, for our sake.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the very example of our Lord Jesus, let us today heed His call, that we be humble in all our words, in all our deeds, and in all our actions. Let us be humble in all our dealings with one another, caring and loving for one another, just as the Lord had commanded us. Let us be truly brothers and sisters to one another, and do not seek the downfall of others or the failure of others for our own success. Let us throw away our pride and don humility instead, just as our Lord Himself had once done for us.
May the Lord continue to watch over us, protect us, and bless us, and that may He remind us at all times that we ought to be humble and loving in all our actions, and in all our dealings to our brethren, remembering the very life He had given us, through His own humble death. God bless us all, forever and ever. Amen.