Yom Kippur 2021 Reflection

Begins at sundown on Wednesday, Sept. 15 and ends at sundown on Thursday, Sept. 16
Paul Arnold, D.Min., BCC – Manager of Spiritual Care, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor/Livingston

Humility is a spiritual discipline not seen or taught much in our American culture. In times of crisis, it appears that many leaders are taught to deny responsibility and deflect the conversation to talk about other people’s faults. 

Each year, Jewish believers observe Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, ten days after Rosh Hashanah (or the Jewish New Year). For those in the Jewish faith, Yom Kippur means acknowledging your misdeeds during the past year, looking for opportunities to apologize or make things right, and asking for forgiveness and a fresh start. This deep, reflective, and challenging day is considered as the holiest day of the Jewish year.

There is a deep sense of realness or authenticity when people are willing to humble themselves, acknowledge their faults, and seek to atone for their actions with the people affected. Not many people are willing seek to follow this path of atonement and hope to just keep things buried in the past. Jesus taught on humility in a surprising way to His disciples in Matthews 18:1-4.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

On this day of Atonement, may we all see the greatness of humility, the power of forgiveness, and the hope of a restored relationship.