Proper 21 (26) – Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost


Year A (2016-2017)
Bible Book: Philippians
Chapter: 2
Verse: 1
Verse (to): 13

Lack of humility – or simply, pride – is a moral disease that affects human beings across the world and across all ages. Isaiah describes the first sign of its emergence in heaven, where it was the driving force that moved the devil to desire God’s throne and fight for it. As result the devil lost the spiritual battle and previous heavenly status (Isaiah 14:12-14).

From heaven, the disease progressed to earth and again it was influential in the decision that led the first human couple to fall spiritually. Let us remember that the devil suggested that, once Eve ate the prohibited frui,t she would not die as God warned them, but she would become like God (Genesis 3:4). So, pride is implicit behind the fall in the Garden of Eden.

Jesus’ disciples didn’t escape this disease! In the book of Mark 9:33-34 we are told how they argued among themselves about who was the greatest. The wife of Zebedee followed the same route as she requested that Jesus share his throne with her sons, by putting one on his right side and the other on the left side. In other words, she was asking that her sons be granted the opportunity of holding higher positions in Jesus’ kingdom than their fellow disciples (Mathew 20:20-21).

I believe we are all reminded of the Pharisee and Tax collector´s parable reported on Luke 18:9-14. The first prided himself for his alleged high moral standards, while the latter chose to humiliate himself before God. I want to emphasize the Pharisee’s attitude, because it is the one that better represents us, due to our human nature. We are always tempted to see ourselves as the correct people, the right ones, the best Christians, the only bearers of the truth, the finished examples of morality, etc, etc. and despise the others, as we strongly assume they are in the lower category.

This is not how followers of Christ should live. Jesus invites us to join him and learn from Him who is gentle and humble in spirit (Mathew 11:28-29). Furthermore, in our reading from Philippians, the apostle Paul goes farther and gives us substantive details on how Christ incarnated humility as he carried out his redemptive work on earth. Although Christ is God, he took human nature, humbled himself and “walked the path of obedience all the way to death”. By doing this, Jesus Christ set the paradigm of humility as an identifying factor for anyone who claims to be his follower.

Unfortunately, contrary to Jesus Christ’s example, we often fail the test of humility. I have noted among the clergy which I am part of and even among Christians at large, that pride is what we most hold strongly, rather than humility.

Question for discussion: Can you consider yourself a humble person? To what extent have you have been failing the test of humility on a daily basis?

Written By: Eduardo Vundo Sassa, Pastor and CABSA Voluntary Representative in Angola and trained CCOH facilitator.

Author: Sassa EV (Ps)
Language: English