Pope Francis: Christian Humility Means to Recognize Oneself a Sinner

Calls on Faithful to Place Themselves on Margins to be Saved

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Christian humility is telling the truth: ‘I am a sinner’. This was the theme of Pope Francis homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father reflected on today’s Gospel from St. Luke.

In the Gospel, Jesus addressed the citizens of his hometown of Nazareth, saying: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Christ gives the example of the healing of the leper Naaman and the encounter of Elijah with the widow of Zarephath, two figures who accepted the prophets despite being outcasts.

“Lepers and widows in those days were the outcasts of society,” he said. “And yet, these two outcasts, welcomed the prophets and were saved, while the people of Nazareth did not accept Jesus because they felt so strong in their faith, so sure of their faithful observance of the Commandments, they felt they had no need for other salvation”.

Jesus, he explained, calls on worshippers at the synagogue that those who do not place themselves in the margins will not obtain salvation. “This is humility, the path of humility: to feel so marginalized that we need the Salvation of the Lord. He alone saves us, not our observance of the law. And they did not like this; they were angry and wanted to kill him.”

Drawing from the example of Naaman, who was angered at first when asked to wash himself 7 times in the Jordan, the Pope said that the Lord invites us in this season of Lent to choose the path of humility if we want to be healed.

“In her Canticle, Mary does not say she is happy because God was looking to her virginity, to her kindness or to her sweetness – all of them virtues that she possessed,” he said.

“No, because the Lord was looking to her humility, the humility of His servant, her smallness. This is what the Lord looks for. And we must take heed of this wisdom and put ourselves on the margins so that the Lord may find us. He will not find us at the center of our certainties. That is not where the Lord looks. He will find us on the margins, in our sins, in our mistakes, in our need for spiritual healing, for salvation; that is where the Lord will find us.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis told the faithful that Christian humility is not the virtue of saying ‘I am not important’, but rather the virtue of recognizing oneself as a sinner. “This is our truth,” he said.

“But there is another truth: God saves us. He saves us when we are on the margins; He does not save us in our certainties. Let us ask for the grace of having the wisdom to put ourselves on the margins, for the grace of humility, so that we may receive the Lord’s Salvation.”

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