What is the chief Christian virtue?

Sunday, August 28, 2022 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin

Readings: SIR 3: 17-18, 20,28-29; PS 68: 4-7, 10-11; HEB 12:18-19, 22-24A; LK 14:1, 7-14

This weekend’s readings remind us of a chief virtue that characterizes the Christian virtue: humility. This virtue is widely thought of as a form of self-abasement. That understanding, however, is off the mark. C.S. Lewis was known to have said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Simply said, humility is simply the awareness of who (and Whose) we truly are.

On one hand, we are children of the Most High God who loved us into existence and who, by virtue of our Baptism, have the Holy Trinity dwelling within us. On the other hand, we are children who are completely dependent on God for our existence and for every breath we take.

Our Lord speaks of true humility in our passage from the holy Gospel according to Saint Luke, telling us the parable of the guests invited to a wedding banquet and instructing us not to seek a place of honor at the banquet table, lest a more distinguished guest arrive and we are asked to move to a lower place.

Jesus has much more in mind here than an etiquette lesson. He is reminding us that all glory belongs to God. The visual image He offers in having to slink down to a lower seat at the table points out how silly we are when we forget to give God the credit for our blessings and talents.

On the other hand, when we live in humility — recognizing that all we have is a gift from God and using those gifts to serve Him and others — then God “exalts” us by filling us with even more of Himself and His grace.

Jesus goes on to encourage us to serve and share our blessings with people facing circumstances that would make it impossible for them to offer us any worldly advantage or prestige — “the poor, the crippled, the lame.” 

Our attitude and how we serve and share should be centered on true humility — recognizing that we are all “little” ones in the eyes of God. We are all His children; brothers and sisters invited to our Father’s heavenly banquet.