Some time ago in Florida the Manager of the Miami Dolphins American Football team, Don Shula was on holidays with his family in Maine. One day as it was raining he decided to go to a movie with his wife and five children. There was only six other people present when he went into the cinema. When he walked in all six people stood up and applauded him. He waved and smiled and turned to his wife and said: ‘we’re a thousand miles from Miami and they’re giving me a standing ovation. They must see my team on the television here. One of the people came over to shake hands with him. He asked the man; ‘How did you recognise me?’ The man replied: ‘Mister I don’t know who you are. All I know is that just before you and your family walked in, the cinema manger told us that unless four more people showed up we wouldn’t have a movie today. This story sheds some light on the message on today’s readings, the invitation to be humble. Sometimes we may think that humility means putting ourselves down, or thinking little of ourselves. Humility is something far more profound and far more beautiful than that. Humility means to be like Jesus, who said: ‘Learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit. It means to be like Jesus who said: ‘The Son of man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people. Humility means to live as Jesus lived, not for ourselves but for others. The small beatitudes: Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, they will have no end of fun. Blessed are those who can tell a mountain from a molehill, they will be saved a lot of bother. Blessed are those who know how to relax without looking for excuses, they are on their way to becoming wise. Blessed are those who think before they act, and pray before they think, they will avoid many blunders. Blessed are those who recognise the Lord in all whom they meet; the light of truth shines in their lives, for they have found true wisdom. Humility is perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted, vexed, irritable, or sore; to wonder at nothing done against me. It is to be at rest, when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed and despised. It is to have a blessed home to myself where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace as in a deep set of calmness, when all around and about is trouble. To be humble is one of the hardest things in the spiritual life. Some of you may remember the words of song. O Lord, how hard it is to be humble when you’re perfect in every way. I can’t wait to look in the mirror, cause I get better looking each day. To know me is to love me, I must be a hell of man. O lord how hard it is to be humble but I am doing the best that I can.
I was shocked, confused, bewildered as I entered Heaven’s door, not by the beauty of it all, nor the lights, nor its decor. But it was the folks in Heaven who made me sputter and gasp – the thieves, the liars, the sinners, the alcoholics, and the trash. There stood that boy from sixth class who stole my lunch money twice. Next to him was my old neighbour, who never said anything nice. Paddy, who I always thought, would be rotting away in hell, was sitting pretty on cloud nine and looking incredibly well. I nudged Jesus, “What’s the deal? I’d love to hear Your take. How did all these sinners get up here?” God must have made a mistake. “And why’s everyone so quiet, so sombre? Please, give me a clue.” “Hush, child,” said Jesus, “they’re all in shock; No one thought they’d be seeing you here.”