It seems God’s word for me this Lent is humility. The Mass and Magnificat readings, the books I pick up, the homilies I hear, they all seem to be saying one thing:
If you want to be more loving, more like Jesus, then
allow yourself to be humbled.
St. Therese of Lisieux put it this way: You want to climb a mountain whereas God wants you to descend: actually He is waiting for you below in the valley of humility…The one way to make rapid progress in the life of love is to remain always little.
To remain little…It’s so contrary to the message of the world and even the message of some people who believe they’re following Christ.
Remaining little is not easy. Ego, pride, self-love, they dictate that we deserve so much more in this life and keep us from truly loving others. Perhaps that’s why we need “to be humbled” as much as we need “to humble ourselves.”
Convicted of our pride, on some level, many of us impose upon ourselves a certain standard or rule of humility in order to humble ourselves before God and even man. Not surprisingly the insidious nature of our ego encourages us to take pride in doing so. That’s why there is something different about choosing humility in the face of humiliating circumstances and interactions with others.
In his book Holy Abandonment, Fr. Lehodey offers this quote by St. Francis De Sales:
There are two ways of humiliation…most people consent to humble themselves but not to be humbled by others. This is a serious mistake..
Lehodey goes on to suggest that if you want to know if your humility is genuine or whether you’re growing in humility all you must do is look at the way you accept being humiliated. Ouch!
So here is a little questionnaire for us today: How do you react…
…when someone is inconsiderate of your plans, desires, needs, feelings?
…when someone contradicts your opinion publicly or even privately?
…when someone points out a mistake you made or proves you wrong?
…when someone points out your sin or a character flaw in you?
…when life doesn’t go as you planned and God doesn’t answer your prayers in the way you wanted?
… when your spouse, children, friends, co-workers disregard your advice?
… when you’re criticized unjustly?
…when God asks you to do something but you feel self-conscious, embarrassed or don’t want to be seen by others?
…when someone is simply rude to you?
The list of questions could go on and if you so desire you might make your own list as you reflect on what the Holy Spirit is saying to you about humility. Of course He can speak volumes to our hearts on this subject but in the end it’s up to us as to whether we are willing to be or not to be humbled.