March 02, 2022 4 min read
The beginning of the Lent leads us to a time of penance and conversion, sometimes even with a shade of sorrow. Perspective change if we conceive these days as a time to reconnect the relationship of faith and love with the Lord. Lord is the only one that gives meaning, fullness, stability, and joy to our lives, by making us humble, by teaching us who He is and who we are. Humbleness is essential to experience joy and live our lives at their full.
Too many times our concept of humbleness is wrong. By having an erroneous concept of humbleness, we feel it as a burden, a deprivation that we "have to" accept, often grudgingly. Other times, towards a false humbleness, we are prevented from achieving the real humbleness. Humbleness does not mean to ignore the natural gifts, the intelligence, the graces that we have been given: because this would mean not to recognize the precious gifts that God has given us. More than humbleness this would turn as ingratitude. To the contrary, opposed to humbleness is to take credits to ourselves, making ourselves look good with what we have received as a gift from God as if it were all result of our own work. Humbleness does not mean diminishing us and getting down on ourselves in front of others. This attitude often is an actual signal of pride. Sometimes the aim, even unintendedly, of those who get themselves down is to obtain appraisal from others. That appraisal they deny first to themselves, and that sometimes can also be a signal of laziness. Discouragement never comes from true humbleness. If we become discouraged, it is because we think more to pursue our own success than to the glory of God; it is because we do not truly seek only God; it is because our pride is hurt and our will disattended; in other words, it is because our actions are moved by human motives, and we seek the consent from men rather than from God.
On the other hand, in order to be humble, we should first of all shift our gaze and attention from ourselves to God. No one has ever seen God (1 Jn 4:12), says Holy Scripture. As long as we live on earth, we have no direct knowledge of the divine essence; between God and man there is an infinite distance, and only Him, adapting himself to the condition of the human being, has been able to bridge this gap through his revelation. God manifested himself through the Creation, the history of Israel, through the words he spoke through the prophets and, finally, through his own Son: the ultimate, complete and definitive revelation, the very manifestation of God. For Jesus said "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14:9). If we really think about it: God became man. God who, in Christ, sees and lets himself be seen, listens and lets himself be listened, touches and lets himself be touched, who lowers himself to the human condition and calls us - who have offended and betrayed him! - to the intimacy of his love, to holiness. Our amazement at the Incarnation of the Word requires us to contemplate with reverence the actions, gestures, and words of Jesus. And by doing so, we discover that everything in Christ's life, from his birth to his death on the Cross, is soaked in humbleness, because, as St. Paul says in the famous passage in the Letter to the Philippians (2:6-8): "...though he was of divine nature, he did not regard his equality with God as a jealous treasure; but he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant and becoming like men; having appeared in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death and death on a cross.
THE ALLERGY TO HUMBLENESS
This is why St. Augustine states in his Letter 118: "If you ask me what is most essential in the religion and discipline of Jesus Christ, I will answer you: The first thing is humbleness, the second, humbleness and the third, humbleness. Because in the humbleness of the Incarnate Word, in addition to manifesting the depth of God's love for us, we are made aware of the only path that can lead us to the fullness of this love. To the contrary today in the world there seems to be a kind of "repulse to humbleness". Surprisingly this is not just a recent issue from "modern times", but a constant element of the human character: the man proudly considers himself the sole lord and master of his own life and his own rules, same as when he committed the original sin. Humbling oneself therefore means seeing oneself as we really are before God: honestly admitting its own limitations, recognizing a legitimate authority above us and willingly submitting to it. Above all, it means imitating Jesus, following his example. If we learn this during our Lenten journey, then we will truly get to Easter filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, as St. Benedict says in his Rule (49:6), and a little more Christian, that is, in other words a little more like Christ.
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