Humility: Key to the Narrow Door by Fr Johnmary Atep
Today offers us a very important element of our Christian faith which is often the most forgotten. Last Sunday, Christ talked about those who may make it to Heaven. He says Heaven is open to all but we have to choose to strive for it. Today, Jesus is giving us the means to enter Heaven. He says we should enter through the narrow door. The key to the narrow door is humility. This virtue of humility is the foundation of all virtues. People think humility is for the poor but it’s not.
The first reading says that the greater you are, the more you must humble yourself so that you may find favour with God. Sometimes, it is difficult to talk about humility. The reason is that humility is a challenging topic. Here are two challenges:
- The paradox of humility according to psychologists state that you cannot know when you are humble. When you say ‘on behalf of my humble self’, it means you are not humble. No one who is humble knows that he is humble. When you know you are humble, you are no longer humble. Same with saying ‘my unworthy self’.
- The age of today promotes the self. There are concepts that celebrate the self, such as self-image, self-actualization, etc. Talking about the self is good but the self must be aware that it belongs to God. This is why even when praying, you pray for others. The moment you pray for yourself alone, you are not humble. An example is the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
There are times we pray and nothing works. This is because there is no humility in our prayer and our prayer is selfish. Also, when we do not open ourselves to the power of forgiveness, humility is far from us. If you are humble and you are promoted in life, you must be closer to God. You must also see the gaps of people and fill it. Jesus is calling on us all to review how we live our lives.
There are things to use to check if we are humble. For example, someone who says ‘I’ or ‘my’ and finds it difficult to say ‘our’ is not humble. These kinds of people are quick to truncate their successes. The one who admits and does not take the glory but attributes it to God is the humble ones. It is not about saying ‘it is my pleasure’ or saying ‘you will see greater things’ when thanked but it is about giving the glory to God.
Also, when we dominate conversations from beginning to the end, we are not humble. This is why such conversations are often ended in quarrel and fighting. If you are humble, you will let it go but not impose it on anyone. It is same with those that say ‘I know’ when you are explaining something to them.
Finally, Jesus is asking that we have the virtue of humility. This is because it is the foundation of all virtues, it allows God to answer our prayers, and allows us to know ourselves and God. Christ is the example of humility and is calling us to recover the stolen virtue of humility. Otherwise, it will be difficult to reach out to others. Because when it is all about you, people will keep away from you. May God grant us the grace to remain humble so as to enter into Heaven. Amen.