Monday, January 3, 2011
The Door of Humility
Homily from the Solemnity of the Epiphany - Year A
These days, the caretakers of the Church of the Nativity don’t really have to worry about people trying to drive carts or ride horses into the Church. However, the tiny doors still help to keep something else from entering the spot where Jesus was born: our own pride and egos. Today, the main entrance to the Church is called “The Door of Humility” because when you pass through it, you must bow down to enter.
Whenever we approach Jesus, we must do so with great humility. This is what the Magi do in today’s Gospel. The very reason why the Magi travel from the far East to see Jesus, is so they can bow down in humility before him. The Magi came to King Herod and asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
We must approach Jesus with humility because he is, as St. Thomas stated, “Our Lord and our God.” Jesus is our friend, but he is our Lord and God first. Before we can approach Jesus as a friend, we must first approach him as our Lord and God.
We approach Jesus in humility because he is our King. And he is a benevolent King, not a ruthless tyrant. He, who asks for our humility, is himself a humble king. In fact, Jesus is humble before we are. Before the Magi humbled themselves before Jesus, Jesus, who is God, humbled himself by being born as a man. Born in a cave, into a poor family. Having as his bed the manger, a feeding trough for animals.
Jesus wants us to embrace the virtue of humility so that he can take away our aggression. And while we may not carry a sword at our side, ready to use against God and neighbor, we do carry a weapon of another sort: our sin. By humbling ourselves before Jesus, we allow him to disarm us of our sin.
Of course, the ordinary way Jesus disarms us of our sin is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But in a few moments we will demonstrate our humility in another way. As we approach Jesus in the Eucharist, immediately before stretching out our hands or our tongue to receive Jesus, we offer him a simple bow of the head. Before I receive Jesus in the Eucharist, I must genuflect before him. In this simple, yet sincere gesture, we acknowledge that Jesus is our Lord and God. And in giving himself to us, Jesus welcomes us as his friend.
So, as we approach Jesus in this Eucharist, let us bow down and enter through a door of humility. With a simple bow of our heads, let us offer Jesus our sword first, then our hand.