"The Humble Shall Be Exalted"

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost


1 August 2021

...for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” Lk. 18: 14


Today’s Liturgy reminds us of the incredible working of the Holy Spirit in the early Church. Last Sunday, we saw the Fall of Jerusalem just as Jesus had prophesied “not a stone shall be left upon a stone.” (Mt. 24:2) It was confirmation that the Old Testament had ended and that the New Testament was the beginning of God’s Kingdom on earth. We see this working of the Holy Spirit in the early Church in today’s Epistle, I Corinthians 12:2-11, where St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that they have been freed from the darkness of idolatry and have been given the gifts of the Holy Spirit in abundance. These superabundant gifts were necessary to convince the pagan Gentiles of the truth of Christianity. In a veiled way, we see the same truth in today’s Gospel where Jesus tells The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. The Pharisee represents the Jew (of the Old Testament) who is self-righteous and arrogant to the tax collector who in his humility knows that he is a sinner. Dom Prosper Gueranger in his book, The Liturgical Year Vol. 11 quotes Venerable Bede commenting on the mystery of this passage: “The Pharisee is the Jewish people, who boasts of the merits he has acquired to himself by observing the precepts of the law; the publican is the Gentile, who being far off from God, confesses his sins. The Pharisee, by reason of his pride, has to depart in humiliation; the Publican, by lamenting his miseries, merits to draw nigh to God—that is to be exalted (“But the publican, standing afar off, would not so much lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me the sinner.’ Lk. 18: 13). It is of these two people, and of every man who is proud or humble, that it is written: ‘The heart of a man is exalted before destruction, and it is humbled before he be glorified.’” (Prov. 18:12) Gueranger, p. 268


The Humble are exalted


Dom Gueranger instructs us that the message of today’s Gospel is seen in the history of the Jews. “The Synagogue has been rejected, has been cast out; and the Church is thereby declared the exclusive heir of the promises. (cf. Gal. 4:30). She is now sole depository of God’s gifts; and she leads her children to St. Paul, that he may put before them the principles which should guide them in the appreciation and use of those gifts. In our Epistle (today) he is speaking of those absolutely gratuitous favours which, at the first commencement of the Church, were, more or less enjoyed by every Christian assembly....The rapid conquest of the world, which from the very commencement was to give evidence to the catholicity of the Church, required a large effusion of power from on high; and, in order that the promulgation of the new Testament might be made authoritatively among men, it was necessary that God should give it all possible solemnity and authenticity. This He did, by accompanying it with signs and wonders, of which He alone could be the author. Hence, in those early days, the Holy Ghost took not possession of a soul by Baptism, without giving an external sign of His presence in that new Christian—without, that is, one of those manifestations which the apostle here enumerates. The Witness of the Word ((Holy Ghost, cf. Jn. 15:26) fulfilled the twofold mission He had received; He sanctified in truth the faithful of Christ (cf. Jn. 17:17), and He convinced of sin the world which would not receive the word of the heralds of the Gospel (cf. Jn. 16:8-11).” Gueranger, p. 256-7 All these gifts (prophecy, miracles and wisdom) were proofs of the divinity of Christ which the Jews had rejected, and which the newly converted Gentiles had accepted.

Happiness in Nothingness


Dom Gueranger comments on the meaning of today’s Gospel, Luke 18:9-14, in the light of the rejection of the Jews and the acceptance of the Gentiles: “In the whole Gospel, then, there was no teaching more appropriate than this, as a sequel to the history of Jerusalem’s fall. The children of the Church, who, in her early years, saw her humbled in Sion and persecuted by the insulting arrogance of the Synagogue, now quite understood that word of the Wise Man: ‘Better is it to be humbled with the meek, than to divide spoils with the proud.’ Prov. 16:19 According to another Proverb, the tongue of the Jew—the tongue which abused the publican and ran down the Gentile—has become, in his mouth, as a ‘rod of pride,’ Prov. 14:3 a rod which in time, struck himself, by bringing on his own destruction (Fall of Jerusalem 70 AD)....Humility, which produces within us this salutary fear, is the virtue that makes man know his right place, with regard both to God and to his fellowmen. It rests on the deep-rooted conviction, put into our hearts by grace, that God is everything, and that we, by nature, are nothingness, nay, less than nothingness, because we have degraded ourselves by sin. Reason is able, of herself alone, to convince anyone, who takes the trouble to reflect, of the nothingness of a creature; but such conviction, if it remain a mere theoretical conclusion, is not humility; it is a conviction which forces itself on the devil in hell, whose vexation at such a truth is the chief source of his rage....At the same time that this holy Spirit fills our souls with the knowledge of their littleness and misery, He also sweetly leads them to the acceptance and love of this truth, which reason, if left entirely to herself, would be tempted to look on as a disagreeable thought.” Gueranger, p. 263-7

Humility in Heaven


Dom Gueranger tells us that the humility of the saints in heaven is greater for they see more clearly what they only faintly realized on earth: “Their happiness, yonder above, is to be gazing on and adoring that altitude of God, of which they will never have an adequate knowledge, and the more they look up at the infinite perfection, the deeper do they plunge into their own nothingness...how the greatest saints were the humblest creatures here below, and how the same beautiful fact is still one great charm of heaven. It must be so, for the light of the elect is in proportion to their glory. What then, must all this exquisite truth be, when we apply it so to the great Mother of God? The nearest to the throne of her divine Son, she is precisely what she was at Nazareth; that is, she is the humblest of all creatures, because she is the most enlightened of all, and therefore understands, better than even the Seraphim and Cherubim, the greatness of God and the nothingness of creatures.” Gueranger, p. 269-70 No wonder Our Lady, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said in her Magnificat these words: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid.” Lk. 1:46-8


Pride begets many sins


Today’s parable of The Pharisee and the Publican reminds us of the many sins that can be committed from pride, one of the seven capital sins. The pride of the Pharisee is seen in his contempt of the Publican. Cornelius A Lapide in his book, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Mark, comments: “See says an interlineator on St. Augustine, ‘how the nearby publican became an occasion of greater pride for the Pharisee. ...Out of pride, he judges rashly and falsely that the publican was wicked, when in fact he was already penitent and justified.

The Pharisee sins therefore, 1. In judging rashly; 2. In despising the publican; 3. In reviling and insulting him, for he casts up to the publican his sins.’” A Lapide, p. 649. No wonder the Lord rejects the proud and self-righteous and gives His grace to the humble: “...for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” Lk. 18: 14



Addendum

New Evangelization III

EXTRA ECCLESIAM NULLA SALUS

(No Salvation Outside the Church) .


The New Testament makes clear the need to attach oneself to the truths taught by the Catholic Faith. Christ gave to the Apostles the entire deposit of faith ("The Holy Ghost will teach you all things" John 14:26), told them to