First Reading:  Sirach 3:17-18,20,28-29


17 My son, go on with your business in meekness;
So shall you be beloved of an acceptable man.
18 The greater you are, humble thyself the more,
And you shall find favor before the Lord.
20 For great is the potency of the Lord,
And he is glorified of them that are lowly.

28 The calamity of the proud is no healing;
For a plant of wickedness has taken root in him.
29 The heart of the prudent will understand a parable;
And the ear of a listener is the desire of a wise man.

World English Bible

In an era of constant cultural change, where does someone find lasting wisdom? Sirach wrote these verses to guide his reader through uncertain times.

As a province of the Syrian kingdom in 180 B.C., Judea faced a belligerent Egypt on the south. At the same time, the rising power of Rome loomed from the west, threatening the kingdom. Rumor, strife, and political intrigue were rampant in Syria; the political fallout was tearing Jerusalem apart. This was a time for the proud and the ambitious to seize the day.

But Sirach advised humility in daily affairs. Why? Because pride and ambition tend to overlook the subtle details of life and relationships. Pride makes one seem more important than he or she really is. In the end, the proud are knocked down. Ambition places power in political or social arenas where power quickly erodes. Neither pride nor ambition can build anything of lasting value.

Humility, on the other hand, gives one a true sense of place. It reminds one of his or her status as creature before God and equality before others. [3:17-18] Humility helps one accept life's burdens, those personal limitations and life situations which do not seem to have rational explanations. [3:20] Humility teaches one openness of mind and heart to learn from others. [3:28] Finally, humility allows one to walk in the shoes of others and act with compassion, especially with the poor. [3:29]

As a virtue, humility runs to the core of character. It is not a mask we put on as a means of social self-abasement or a means for social climbing. True humility is simply to know our place in the greater scheme of things. It is to look at ourselves through God's eyes and lovingly accept what we see. This knowledge and self-acceptance give us sure means to survive times of uncertainly.

How can you exercise humility in your work and at your home? How is this practice of humility wise?