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Apostolic Movement

Humility means service

By: Schoenstatt International

“On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table: “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at the table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say: Give your place to this man. And then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place.

Rather, when you are invited, go, and take the last place, so when the one who invited you arrives, he will say to you: Friend, come closer. This will be a great honor for you before the other guests. For he who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus also said to the one who had invited him, “When you give a lunch or a meal, do not invite your rich friends, brothers, relatives or neighbors, for they in turn will invite you, and so you will be compensated. When you give a banquet, invite rather the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. How fortunate for you if they cannot compensate you! For your reward you will receive at the resurrection of the righteous.”

(Luke 14,1; 7-14)

Race for the best seats

Dear brothers and sisters, we are familiar with the race for the best seats. Maybe not as spectacular as they are here at this wedding, but when it comes to concerts, sports or whatever, you want to have a seat where you can see what’s going on and where you are right in the middle.

I experience it constantly because I live in Rome. People ask me: where do you have to be in St. Peter’s Square to get the best view of the Pope? And then there is also the competition, even in the holy places: you want to have the best place. And then we read here that it must not be so with you Christians; remain humble, take the last place, or as we just heard, make room for this man. Make room for the other.

The first to serve

Foto: Vatican media

When I read this, I thought about the appointment of the cardinals this weekend and it struck me that among those who now have the “best seats,” the cardinals should be the first to serve.

Those seats are not the best seats for Pope Francis, he sees things a little differently. Yesterday in his homily he spoke mainly about service. The cardinals should also be the first, when it comes to serving. The color red is actually due to the readiness to martyrdom for Christ. They are supposed to be the first to be willing to die for Christ.

The youngest cardinal in the world lives in Mongolia

Among them is a cardinal, Father Giorgio Marengo, an Italian living in Mongolia, who is the youngest, at 48 years of age. This is a symbol of this process. He probably has the first place in Mongolia. You know approximately where that is. There are 3 million inhabitants and there are 1500 Catholics. And the head of these 1500 Catholics just became a cardinal and not other bishops of major cities in the world.

Of course, this bishop has been interviewed endlessly. You can read about it everywhere, and he speaks of the humility that this signifies for him. And he speaks of being open to dialogue, occupying the last place, and that like him, 1500 Catholics want to be at the service of the 3 million inhabitants of Mongolia. That has to do with today’s Gospel, that somebody nobody really thought about, on the periphery of the world, was elevated to the rank of cardinal.

And we… are we looking for the first places?

Now, when we think about ourselves, about everyday life. Do we look for the best places? Do we want the first place? Or do we just want to be humble, taking the lowliest place, to make room for others, as we just heard: “make room for this one”.

Isn’t it true that we are so overstuffed with all kinds of things, that our hearts are crammed with thoughts, our closets are bursting with clothes and other things, that our cell phones are overloaded with communication, that we don’t have room for what is next?

Making room for the other

The other day, someone said to me, “I have now deleted Facebook from my computer, because I realize that all that stuff has become too much for me and that I no longer have space to dedicate to the really important things”.

Sometimes I feel that way when I visit families and bring something for the kids, they are happy, a brief twinkle in their eyes and then the thing just flies off into a corner. Yes, they have so much; there is no more room for what the new guest just brought. So, I believe that could mean for us that we must occupy the most lowly place. To practice humility means to make room and to free ourselves from everything that we are so full of, that our society is so full of.

To be able to receive someone, to pay attention to something, to someone, even to receive God, since sometimes, even being good Catholics, one has no more time or space. The Gospel tells us, “Only the humble can receive a gift”, only those who have little can rejoice immensely over a handful of rice in these countries where survival is at stake, because they can accept this gift with the experience of inner humility.

The Gospel says to make room, to make space, perhaps even in my own home. The Gospel motivates me to make some room in my house so that other things can come in; to make room in my heart, freeing myself from so many things, so that I have room to give other people the opportunity to have a home in me.

Humility means saying to God: You are what is essential

Humility is not possible without cleansing. If we look at it spiritually and religiously, humility actually means having the courage to serve, the audacity to serve; this is related to the fact that I experience myself as a creature in a relationship with the Creator. So, I come from God, I come from the Creator, who is the first and who is everything, and I want to serve him with my life. That is the deeper meaning of humility.

Humility means the inner attitude towards God: You are what is essential, You are love, You are strength, You are power; and I want to turn to You, I want to give You space: I want to give You room, good God, I want to make room for You in my life, in my occupations, in what drives me; and if I make room for You, then You will make of me and of my heart a small paradise through Your presence.

Wherever we can practice this, we will be in the right place: with Mary. I think Mary and the experiences here at the Shrine make it clear to us time and again: Mary, that is the place where we learn healthy humility.

Mary’s heart is a fully humble heart

Immediately the Magnificat comes to mind: yes, the arrogant – arrogance, which is the opposite of humility – are scattered; the powerful are cast down from their thrones, the rich go away empty-handed and the thirsty, the hungry, the needy receive gifts, can receive gifts. Yes, what kind of heart must have been in Mary for God to find a place in her?

Not with just a bit and on the sidelines plus a little morning prayer or a short prayer in the evening, but in such a way that God can fill a person completely. Yes, that is only possible when there is a lot of room, a lot of free space, when one has been emptied of what is not necessary, so that God can enter completely with his presence.

Father Kentenich: from youthful pride to humility

As I thought about this Gospel, I then remembered that at the end of his life, after his 14 years of exile, Father Kentenich spoke about mercy and then he said: “Yes, we have spoken so much about mercy in the past, but that mercy can be so great, so deep, so all-encompassing, that we did not realize it”.

And this from someone who, at the age of 25, writes in his diary that pride will probably be his real toil, his real hard task, for the rest of his life, that pride is probably the limitation that he will have to work on for the rest of his life.

May it also be a gift to us that at the end of life we can say in all humility, yes, that God’s mercy, His pity, that God’s love is so great, that I could not have imagined it. Amen


P.Heinrich Walter

This homily was given by Father Heinrich Walter on Sunday, August 28, 2022 in the Original Shrine in Schoenstatt.

Video of the homily in German


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