Readings: Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12; Psalm 105; Matthew 10:1-7
The term 'humility' is connected with humus, meaning the ground or the earth. To be humble could then be taken to mean lowering oneself, perhaps considering oneself as of no particular value, perhaps even allowing oneself to be walked on ... it can get extreme and we move towards the vice of pusillanimity which one colleague described colourfully as 'humility gone mad'.
A better way to take this connection with humus, the ground or earth, is to link it with something like the message of Hosea in the first reading today: 'break up for yourselves a new field'. It means be prepared to start all over again. It means be prepared to allow the Lord to plough up your life, to turn things over, to reach down into the depths of your heart and soul in order to freshen things up.
Pride is solid, isn't it, strong and resistant, whereas humility is soft and docile, it is open to learning new things and to being available in new ways. The new field that is broken up by the plough has the potential to bear much fruit. In a similar way the humble man or woman has the potential to bear much fruit. In fact the beatitude that brings us closest to humility, 'blessed are the meek', is the one that brings the reward of inheriting the earth.
In the gospel reading Jesus sends the apostles back to the beginning, to the heart of Israel. For the moment forget about pagan territory and Samaritan territory, he says. There is a need to go back to that old field, Israel, and to make it new again, to plough it up, freshen it up, and get it ready for a new era of fruitfulness.
The kingdom of heaven is at hand. If we are to enter into that kingdom, to live its life, then we must become like little children. That means being fresh and open, being keen and eager to learn again the lessons of life. To be humble is to be like that, ready and willing that the Lord should once again shake up my life, dig deeply into the soil of it, break the crust of pride that threatens to choke it, and liberate the potential for love and life and joy which lies hidden within it. Unclean spirits will be driven out and every disease and illness of soul will be cured. A new world begins with the turning of the sod, with the sowing of new seed, with allowing the earth to breathe. And the door that opens us to such an experience is called humility.