Humble Church, Humble Priests, Humble Catholics


22nd Sunday Ordinary Time

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: August 28, 2022

What kind of church is needed today? What kind of priests are needed today? What kind of Catholics are needed today? All of these actually go together. The kind of church we want to be depends on the kind of priests we have and the kind of Catholics that we are.

The speech of Jesus to the Pharisees in the Gospel today could perhaps be something Jesus would say to us in the Catholic Church today. Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees, he sees their pride, their desire to be praised and acknowledged. They want to be put on pedestals and seen as superior to others. Jesus is clear about the importance of humility. A humble way of being in relation to others and to God.

We need a humble church, so we need humble priests, and we need humble Catholics. What will a humble church look like? What will humble priests and Catholics look like?

  • Humility always means facing the truth about ourselves. Seeing ourselves honestly.
  • Humility means that we see our own sins, our own weaknesses, before we look at those of others.
  • Humility means understanding that there is one God, one Messiah, and it is not us. We are not the centre of the universe.
  • Humility allows us to serve those that cannot give us anything in return, to serve those who seem unimportant to our world, to serve those who will not even thank us.
  • Humility means that we do not see ourselves as superior to others.
  • Humility means we do not need to win every debate or argument.
  • Humility means we realize that we are not always right.
  • Humility means we do not have all the answers.
  • Humility means I only worry about how I am seen by God, I do not need recognition or praise from others for doing what is right.

We have a seminarian, William Meehan, with us this summer. As he continues his discernment and formation for the priesthood, there are some things that I hope for him. First, that he is a better priest than me!!! But, seriously, if he is to be a good and happy priest, he will need to avoid wanting to be put on a pedestal, not see himself as more important or holier than others, not think he is closer to God.

A priest is one willing to take a demotion, to get down low to the least within society, who is not looking for praise or honour or recognition. A priest is to be intimately united to Jesus because a priest is to serve the way Jesus did. My hope is that he will be a humble priest. So far, I am glad that I see this humility in William.

As we listen to Jesus speaking to the Pharisees in this Gospel, we should hear Jesus speaking to us as Catholics today.

We need to be a humble church today, so we need humble priests and we need humble Catholics. Sometimes people come to me in confession or spiritual direction and they say that they want to pray for humility. I always smile and warn them about praying for humility, because you might get it!

The challenges the church and priests face in society today due to scandals and criticisms just might be God’s way of forming a humbler church, humbler priests, humbler Catholics.

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