Step 9: Meekness and Humility
“Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Matt. 11:29)
A builder walked up to an empty lot one day and stood before it, contemplating what it could possibly become. He toyed with creative possibilities and . . . alas! It’s purpose was determined! This parcel of land will become a temple, a beautiful place of worship. He gathered his men and instructed them to begin mixing the cement. One man walked up to him and asked, “could I first design the stain glass windows?” The builder said “No, first the concrete” Then another man approached him and ask, ” may I get a jump start on the pillars?”, the builder again replied, “first the cement.” After a couple more “suggestion” attempts from the workers the builder gathered all the men and asked “who here agrees that the infrastructure of this building will be one of great beauty and marvel?” simultaneously all men voiced their agreement. Then he asked, “who here believes that we can build a breathtaking temple by completing its kingly pillars, piercing windows, and golden walls without ever laying a hand on its foundation? Will we have a place to lay the toil of our day?” . . . “well, will we?”
“In the spiritual life humility must precede everything else in order to banish pride, to which God is so opposed. He, therefore, who endeavors to acquire the other virtues without humility is scattering dust before the wind” (Alphonsus,123). It is not appealing to acquire a virtue that is simply a passive response to life. According to society, it is a shameful lack of consideration or importance for one’s own personhood. If that were true, I would be the first to denounce it.
What was the Passion of Christ? After all, it is a perfect description of what society believes to be a ludicrous act of humility. One thing that they do not consider is the underlying significance of this virtue. What they don’t know is what they do not consider; namely, humility comes with one key ingredient indispensable to its genuine fulfillment. God!
“If a horse were decked with gorgeous trappings would it-supposing it were able to do so- pride itself on having such fine adornments, knowing that at a moment’s notice its master could take them away?” (Alphonsus 124).
“By the grace of God, I am what I am” – 1 Cor. 15:10
Yes, by his grace I am successful,
by his grace I am loving,
by his grace I have virtue,
by his grace I have ____________.
By his grace we are what we are. “humility is truth” says St. Teresa, our gifts and talents cannot be hidden, truth requires we acknowledge what we have been given; that which is unique to us. These gifts must be used and shared, not suppressed. But any praise derived from them should not be accepted with pride, and most importantly it cannot be “humbly” dismissed as if to please God; it is not within our power to shun down praises, true humility calls for an offering of these praises to God’s glory. The more we are convinced of our nothingness apart from Him, the more we recognize our dependence on Him. And when grace finds us, there is no other word we wish to udder than, “He that is mighty has done great things for me” (Lk. 1:48).
“By the grace of God, I am what I am”” – 1 Cor. 15:10
by his grace I am torn,
by his grace I suffer,
by his grace I fear,
by his grace I am laid low,
by his grace I am ________.
By his grace we are what we are. There is no human praise for the grace of lowliness. This is the humility Jesus came to live. He became flesh and humbly took on humanity. He was a man who humbly submitted to Mary and Joseph. He retired to Nazareth and humbly went unnoticed. He appeared among men and humbly embraced mockery. He approached Jerusalem to humbly take up his cross. He rose to Calvary and humbly outstretched his arms in crucifixion. Where is the pride in this??? Is there room for praise? Can we offer such “grace” and expect to glorify God? Yes!!! It is easy to offer praise and success to God, it feels good, very good. But the thorns that we carry are both a cross and a grace they are unquestionably greater than any human praise could ever be. It allows for a more intimate sharing in the offering of Jesus on Calvary. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart: and you will find rest in your soul” (Matt. 11:29).
It is our intellect which aids an acknowledgment of our nothingness before God. It is our will that provides the desire to seek it. If these two are in harmony we will not be lacking. “Many are humble with their lips but few are humble of heart” (Alphonsus 129). Our meek response to the world purifies mans ill intent. By our example of meekness and humility the world will encounter Jesus Christ. If we are mocked, we return blessing. If we are hated, we return love. If we are ignored, we return acknowledgement. If we are struck, we return mercy. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).
“Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine!”