The Virtue of Humility

While Jesus was speaking, an official came forward,
knelt down before him, and said,
“My daughter has just died.
But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.”
Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples.
A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him
and touched the tassel on his cloak.
She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”
Jesus turned around and saw her, and said,
“Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.”
And from that hour the woman was cured.

When Jesus arrived at the official’s house
and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion,
he said, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.”
And they ridiculed him.
When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand,
and the little girl arose.
And news of this spread throughout all that land.
(Matthew 9:18-26)

Scripture Study

9:18 Official: literally, “ruler.” Mark calls him “one of the synagogue officials” (Mk 5:22). My daughter has just died: Matthew heightens the Marcan “my daughter is at the point of death” (Mk 5:23).

9:20 Tassel: possibly “fringe.” The Mosaic law prescribed that tassels be worn on the corners of one’s garment as a reminder to keep the commandments (see Nm 15:37–39; Dt 22:12).

9:24 Sleeping: sleep is a biblical metaphor for death (see Ps 87:6 LXX; Dn 12:2; 1 Thes 5:10). Jesus’ statement is not a denial of the child’s real death, but an assurance that she will be roused from her sleep of death.

Scripture Reflection

What is humility? I find the definition that Saint Teresa of Avila gives us to be the most helpful.  She said that humility is living in the truth (“andar en la verdad”). When you consider this definition carefully, it makes a lot of sense. Humility allows us to live in the truth in our relationship with God, ourselves and our neighbor.

First, we need to remember that God is God and we are not. We live out our relationship with God by being lovingly obedient to his loving and provident plan over our lives. Secondly, we live in the truth with ourselves by being just who we are and not trying to be something that we are not. Thirdly, we live in truth with our neighbor through mutual respect, kindness and acceptance.

Humility is not an easy virtue to acquire.  Benjamin Franklin once wrote: “There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”

Humility is a gift.  We need to ask God to make us humble.  But, asking for humility is not enough; we need to do acts of humility.  We have many opportunities every day to do many acts of humility.  The more we exercise the virtue of humility, the humbler we will become.

The door of life is a door of mystery. It becomes slightly shorter than the one who wishes to enter it. And thus only he who bows in humility can cross its threshold. This is the lesson we see in today’s Gospel reading. Jairus does not care what people will say; a prominent person in his city, he humbles himself before Jesus for all to see. What amazing things happen when we humble ourselves.

– Father James Farfaglia

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.