I was reminded of it again yesterday while reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together. He addresses the same question, Who among us is the chief of sinners? with the same answer. It brought me back to Neuhaus today, and I think rather than talking about it more, I'll just give you a small passage:
"I may think it modesty when I draw back from declaring myself chief of sinners, but it is more likely a failure of imagination. For what sinner should I speak if not for myself? Of all the billions of people who have lived and of all the thousands whom I have known, whom should I say is the chief of sinners? Surely I am authorized, surely I am competent to speak only for myself? When in the presence of God the subject of sin is raised, how can I help but say that chiefly it is I? Not to confess that I am chiefly the one is not to confess at all."
It is a matter of honesty, and any humility that is not rooted in honesty isn't humility at all. It is also a matter of love, and that is what brings us back to Bonhoeffer. In Life Together, the question of our guilt is raised as a reminder that we come to our neighbors as broken people, children in need of a Savior. Any suggestion that we are less in need than our neighbors is a lie we must disabuse ourselves of if we ever mean to love them with the love of Christ.
In a secular sense, good etiquette requires approaching all people with equal respect, consideration, and sincerity. If you wish to approach any layer of society with an open heart and mind, you need those three things. But I suspect it's not wholly possible, even for the most polite disciple of Emily Post, without the humility of Christ, who bore the consequences of the worst of sinners with a holy willingness, though he himself knew no sin. Better to be his disciple, because in doing so we find not only the most lowly humility but also the adoption into his family. Welcome, then, to the Church, home of the chief of sinners.