Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

Today's Mass Readings



[Jesus said,] “I tell you, this [tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the [Pharisee]; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14, RSV)

A reading from On Humility by St. Basil the Great:
“Be on your guard, therefore, and bear in mind this example of severe loss sustained through arrogance. The one guilty of insolent behavior suffered the loss of his justice and forfeited his reward by his bold self-reliance. He was judged inferior to a humble man and a sinner because in his self-exaltation he did not await the judgment of God but pronounced it himself. Never place yourself above anyone, not even great sinners. Humility often saves a sinner who has committed many terrible transgressions.”7

St. Basil earned the epithet “the Great” because of his holiness and his staunch defense of the divinity of Christ in the face of its denial (Arianism). But this title was added to his name many years after his death. During his life, he was rather underappreciated and often misunderstood. He took it, however, which shows he had some measure of humility.

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector shows that there is a fine line between humility and pride. The tax collector, though a sinner in the eyes of men, was justified in the eyes of God because of his humility. The Pharisee, righteous in the eyes of men, lost favor in the eyes of God because of his pride. That is why St. Basil says, “Be on your guard”: self-exaltation can slip into our thoughts, prayers and actions undetected. He advises, “Never place yourself above anyone, not even great sinners.” In other words, do not think of oneself as incapable of the same egregious sins. We should think, “That could’ve been me,” not, “that could never be me.” Let God be the judge of people’s hearts, and even of your own. This is part of humility.

Reflection: What is humility to you? How do you try to live it out? As is customary on Saturdays, let us think of Mary, our model of humility. She admitted her lowliness before the Lord, and attributed any greatness in herself to Him.

Reflection by Brother Luke Kral, OSB

[7] Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. New Testament, vol. 3. Arthur A. Just, InterVarsity Press, 2003. p. 280.

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