The word “humble” comes from the Latin root “humus,” a word that means earth or soil. It reminds us of the fact that the Book of Genesis tells us in the second creation story, found in chapter two, that we were formed from the dust or soil of the earth. Then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).
A humble person is one who realizes where he or she comes from, who realizes that without God we would be nothing but the dust or soil of the earth, lumps of clay. God has formed us and shared with us the life-giving spirit which only God possesses. Humility is considered a virtue because it grounds us in reality. Its opposite, arrogance or pride, pretends that human beings are not created beings. Rather than being satisfied with the dignity which God has given us by creating us in God’s image, the person who lacks humility acts as if he or she is the creator, the one who has fashioned his or her own destiny.
We find the truest example of humility in the person of Jesus. St. Paul tells us that Jesus let go of his divinity in order to take on our humility, subjecting Himself to human weakness, taking on even death. St. Matthew offers us one of the more beloved sayings of Jesus in today’s Gospel passage. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves (Matthew 10:29).
A yoke is used to harness the energy of two individuals, usually beasts of burden. Two horses, oxen, water buffalo are joined together so that they can work as one. If we accept the yoke of Jesus, acceptance of which demands humility, we harness ourselves to the strength of Jesus who has defeated sin and death through obedience to the will of God. When we accept the yoke of Jesus, we admit that we are powerless lumps of clay which cannot exist without God. This is true humility, simply accepting who and what we are. In that humility Jesus assures us we will find rest for ourselves for we will be able to set aside the mistaken notion that our lives are about ourselves. We will find rest because we will have tapped into the strength of Jesus, the strength that has defeated the very power of sin and death.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator