The Foundation of Humility

Homily of Fr. Herbert Nicholls

In the Gospel today (cf. Mt 18: 1 – 5), Jesus begins a series of instruction on the way in which His Church is to be administered. The first five verses of Chapter 18 are addressed to leaders, that is, the future hierarchy of the Church. It warns against natural tendencies to pride and ambition. In whatever position they must act with humility.

St. Augustine tells us that humility is one of the main pillars of Christian life. If you ask me, he said, what is the essential thing in the religion and discipline of Jesus Christ, I shall reply:  first, humility; second, humility; and third, humility.

Fr. Luis de Granada makes the point that humility is superior to virginity. If you cannot imitate the virginity of the humble then at least imitate the humility of the virgin. Virginity is praiseworthy but humility is necessary. Virginity is recommended but humility is obligatory. We are invited to virginity; but to humility we are compelled. Virginity is a voluntary sacrifice but humility requires an obligatory sacrifice. Lastly, you can be saved without virginity but you cannot be saved without humility.

Let us now take a glimpse at our Saint of the day (June 6). Dorotheus was a priest of the Diocese of Tyre. During the reign of Diocletian, he suffered much persecution in his home Diocese, eventually he was driven into exile at Odyssopolis. The lull in persecution under the Emperor Constantine enabled him to return to Tyre where he was elected bishop.

Dorotheus was a man of great learning, well versed in both Latin and Greek, and he is reported to have authored several books. He was a full participant at the Council of Nicaea in 325. Unfortunately Constantine was succeeded by the Emperor Julian who brought back a renewal of persecutions.

He was again exiled to Odyssopolis which today is the port of the city of Varna in Bulgaria. Even so he was not left in peace but so cruelly beaten, that he died of his injuries at the age of 107 in the year 362.