Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” (Matt. 11:29)
Humility is one of the virtues most characteristic of our Lord. It is the only virtue that he explicitly said that we should learn of Him. “Learn of me that I am meek and humble of heart.” Humility is also one of the most misunderstood and least appreciated of the virtues. It is not the virtue of the weak; it is the virtue of the strong.
Humility is not an inferiority complex, a negative self image, a cringing, fawning obsequiousness. It is not the denial of the talents I have. That would be a lie, and a lie can never be a virtue, it is a sin. It doesn’t mean that we hide our talents. The Lord warned us about hiding our talents in the parable of the talents. If we hide them we lose them. Humility instead of suppressing our actions, inspires us to do and attempt great things because we are only instruments in the hand of God. We can do anything God wants us to do. We can “launch out into the deep and cast our net for a catch.” Mary said in her Magnificat: “He who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.”
Humility does not mean that we let people run over us. That would not be good for them and it surely wouldn’t be good for us. Justice is the substratum, the foundation, of love. Fraternal correction is an essential part of love. Jesus was simple as a dove in life-style and doctrine, meek and humble of heart but also thick skinned, tough as nails and wise as a serpent. He knew what was in man and was no respecter of persons. He called a spade a spade and went right to the heart of the matter. He called the Pharisees frauds and hypocrites and drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple.
Humility is truth. It is true that I am a feeble, fickle, fallible, sinful human being. But it is also true that I am gifted, graced, unique and indispensable. I am an unrepeatable gift of God. I have this inner core goodness that nothing can destroy. And in spite of all my physical warts, psychological quirks and spiritual infidelities God loves me unconditionally with a love I cannot merit or ever be worthy of.
Humility is truth. And the truth is: I am “we.” And “we” is mostly Thee. In other words “we” represents the Indwelling of the Blessed Trinity. The truth is that God is the ground of my being. God is in me as the song is in the singer and the dance in the dancer. Without God I would not even exist. “In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) The absolutely self-autonomous self, the self without God, is the “false self” that exists only in my imagination.
“Learn of me that I am meek and humble of heart and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOUL.” It is the proud who are restless. They are always in competition, in the rat-race. They always have to be number one. They value themselves according to their possessions, productivity and success. The proud are always having to prove themselves. Remember, the motto at Eastern Airlines was: “We have to earn our wings every day.” Evidently, they didn’t because they are no longer winging it.
We don’t have to prove anything to God. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He loves us not because of what we are but because of WHO he is. All we have to do is to drop our masks, come down off the pedestal and just be me. And be happy to be me. And we will find rest for our soul, and give great praise and glory to God.
The way to humility is through humiliations. So today when you are humiliated, and you will be, maybe two or three times, instead of being upset and disturbed, be glad and rejoice because you are on your way to humility where you will find peace and rest for your soul. And He who is mighty can do great things for you.
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