Humility in Following Christ
Despite his rebuking of Peter and teaching his disciples that he is to be handed over to those who will kill him, and after three days he will rise, the disciples do not understand what he is talking about. Their minds are completely elsewhere. Even as he predicts for the second time the betrayal and death await Him in Jerusalem, they continued to dream of sharing His glory when He declares Himself as the Messiah in the holy city. The question that bothers them in their discussion is which of them will have the highest place in the Kingdom. It even gives rise to a quarrel.
It is easy to laugh at them, but the laugh is on us. Called to follow Christ, we worry about tiny advantages and securities as if Christ never was. Jesus appeals to the disciples’ ambition: “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Indeed Jesus often appeals to our low level of thinking to inspire us with the ambition of imitating him, who came “not to be served, but to serve” (Mk 10:45). By doing this, Jesus makes a great teaching on Humility.
When St. Bernard was asked what the four cardinal virtues were, he replied: “Humility, humility, humility and humility.” Humility is the most misunderstood virtue of our times. The humility is synonymous with weakness. Being humble doesn’t mean suppression of one’s personal attributes or abject self-depreciation. The humble person knows his/her places and takes it. The humble person if he/she is supposed to rule – rules; and when he/she is supposed to serve, serves. But even in his most triumphant moments, the humble person remembers that all he/she is and all that he/she has is from God.
Christ remains our best model for humility. In the Gospels Christ chose the most humble. He chose the sick over the healthy…the weak over the powerful…the poor over the rich. He didn’t select scribes and scholars for his apostles; he picked a fisherman and a tax collector, a doubter and a betrayer. He encountered a woman begging for scraps from God’s table, and he performed a miracle where every crumb was collected and saved. He drew to himself those who were broken and needed healing, from the blind and the crippled to the possessed and the spiritually lost.
Jesus often found more among those who, in the eyes of the world, seemed to be less. He also expects us to think in the same way and to be humble when following him.
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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