“There’s a true story about Don Shula. Now Don Shula for those of you who don’t know was one of the winningest coaches in the NFL for years. He was coach of the Miami Dolphins and led that team to four Super Bowls and won two of them and he also won numerous titles of distinction throughout the United States, so he was a very famous person actually. Anyway, this one summer, Don took his family up to a very small town in Maine for a vacation and this one day it was a rainy day and so they decided to go to the local movie house, so they went down to the movie house and entered the lighted building and soon as Don walked in everyone stood and applauded him and this sort o brightened his spirit that day and so pretty soon man came over and shook his hand and Don said, ‘I’m very flattered by your applause and your recognizing me, but tell me, how did you know who I was? And the man said, ‘Mister, we don’t know who you are, but we just know that if you and four other people didn’t come in today we wouldn’t have a movie.’
He who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted. You know I think we all error against humility at different times in our lives, but everybody I think at some time wants to be a dictator. Did you ever experience that in your home or your business or in other groups? Sometimes we perhaps think we’re just a little bit better than others, more deserving of importance of being shown the special place and so on, but Jesus doesn’t want us to be like that. He wants us to be humble and he said, ‘Learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart.’ Jesus wants humility. What is humility? Humility comes from the Latin word Humus which means earth and it’s also where the word human comes from and it reminds us of God creating man out of the dirt of the earth and his final words to man in the Garden of Eden, ‘Remember man that you are dirt and unto dirt you shall return’. So, humility wants us to recognize our total dependence upon God. The greatest pride is our feeling of independence from him that we are our own God, our own lawmaker, our own standard to obey, but we are dependent upon God, are we not? And we are dependent upon one another. If we didn’t have parents, we wouldn’t be. If we didn’t have educators, we wouldn’t know as much as we know. If we didn’t have industrious people around us our lives would be impoverished and if we didn’t have people who loved us, our lives would be empty, so we need people too. We need God and we’re dependent upon God and people around us.
Now pride is the opposite of humility. Pride says, “I don’t need anybody.’ Pride says, ‘I’m better than everybody.’ Pride, the big example of course is the devil. The devil thought he was equal to God and he fell into Hell and he deceived Adam and Eve and they fell from grace. He is the deceiver. He is the liar. He makes us think we are better than everybody else.
Arrogance is a form of pride. We can be arrogant in our speech in our words in our actions. We can be arrogant to others. We can be arrogant against the Earth. You know the reason I say that today is because Pope Francis has declared this day and all week actually as a week of prayer for the care of the Earth and he recognizes as we all should that our beautiful Earth that God has given to us, this beautiful Earth of ours with all of its beautiful parts, we have desecrated in many ways. We have polluted our air, polluted our water ways, our oceans. We have polluted our land. God made us the stewards of creation, but instead we have exploited it and we have almost destroyed it and so we are to pray for the care of our Earth that God gave us this beautiful Earth of ours.
You know the one outstanding example of humility is Jesus Christ himself. Jesus who said, ‘Learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart.’ St. Paul says of him, ‘Though he was divine he did not cling to his divinity, but he emptied himself taking upon himself our human condition.’ He traded his royal divinity for our human nature with all its limitations with all its defects and he also traded his royalty for a crown of thorns and he entered into that terrible state of his passion where upon he finally died crucified to a cross on Calvary all for our sake, so he was the soul of humility. He wants us to imitate him. If you want to know what humility is, look into the face of love and you will see it.
I have a little prayer I’d like to share with you. I entitled this prayer, Humble Jesus.
Humble Jesus, teach us, Lord,
To take the lowest place,
To live our lives in service here
Strengthened by your grace.
Take away all arrogance,
Purify our lives after yours
Pattern our lives after yours,
Give us joy in serving you.
With compassion, gift our lives,
For your poor and suffering.
In us charity revive.
You are our example, Lord,
Of true humility.
Gentle servant of us all,
You tell us, “Learn from me.’
If we take the lowest place,
Humble service, our desire,
When our life is over here,
You’ll tell us, ‘Come up higher.’”