In today’s gospel passage, Luke writes that Jesus addressed this parable “to those who were convinced of their own righteousness” and who also despised everyone else. Jesus began the parable with the words: “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.”

The Pharisee prayed, “O God, thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity: greedy, dishonest or adulterous. Clearly the Pharisee believed that he was superior to most people and was confident that God was very pleased with him also. The tax collector found a quiet place to pray, he beat his breast and prayed, saying: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” The tax collector was not demeaning himself but spoke the truth: “I am a sinful man.” Jesus then said to his disciples: “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

In many arenas of today’s world, humility is a quality that often is not appreciated. Every day we hear from the political candidates who are running for office. They tell us of their strengths and the vision that they have for our country. Some of the candidates are humble, yet other candidates believe they have all the answers for our country. Humility is a quality that all leaders need to possess, at least to some degree. No one person has all of the answers or all of the wisdom. This is true also in church, corporations, families, organizations, teams and in any group of people who come together for a purpose.

Humility does not mean that we demean ourselves or pretend to be less than we are. True humility means that we recognize and acknowledge our limitations as well as our gifts and our talents. No one person has all the answers. Humble people will freely ask for advice or wisdom and will acknowledge when they need help.

Jesus does not want us to demean ourselves, nor does he want us to exalt ourselves. Jesus has blessed each and every person with many gifts and talents; however, Jesus also realizes that we also have limitations and faults. Today I invite you to be mindful of when it is time to share your gifts and talents and when you could use some words of wisdom or insight from another person. Give thanks for the many gifts you have to share and give thanks for the many people who share their insights and talents with you. Together, we can enrich our world and make it a loving and peaceful place!

Steve Goodier