The brother in lowly circumstances
should take pride in high standing,
and the rich one in his lowliness,
for he will pass away “like the flower of the field.”
For the sun comes up with its scorching heat and dries up the grass,
its flower droops, and the beauty of its appearance vanishes.
So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits. “ (James 1:9-11)
Our greatest inheritance is our nothingness.
In discovering our lowliness we unravel the magnitude of our belonging to a gracious God and that the most important and vital means to attaining holiness is by becoming comfortable in our lowliness.
The saints have always spoken about humility as the necessary foundation to all the other virtues. If this is to be the case, then it is right that it is something to suffer for, mainly because it produces a richness that cannot be acquired by any other means. Those raised with great veneration in our Church are the holy men and women who walked this earth seeing themselves perpetually as “lowly servants”.
To yearn for the height of virtue and not be willing to become lowly is truly why there are numerous people walking around wearing a costume of piousness puffed up in pride. We can err when we are more attached to the radiance of sanctity and all that it offers us, before first fastening ourselves to the dull, mundane, and desert moments that produce the crown of virtue.
To climb the heights toward holiness first requires an honest acknowledgment of lowliness. It is only by recognizing our faults and weaknesses that we are brought to a greater understanding of ourselves and a deeper awareness of our need for the Lord in our lives. In fact, when we reconcile ourselves to see our nothingness we can see God for everything that He is, and all that we are only through Him alone. When we are open to identifying the inner shades of our hearts, then we can open ourselves to experiencing the Lord’s mercy and love. We know accordingly what we must pine for.
It takes great humility to see ourselves in the light of truth, and simultaneously it is this vulnerability that is the most beautiful and most pleasing to our Lord. It is an invitation for Him to dwell within us and help us attain purity of heart. We become more by first becoming less. Humility allows us to see our limitations and the infinite capabilities of the Divine.
We pay God a great compliment by recognizing our lowliness so that He may shine forth His majesty through us. God loves us immeasurably. It is a love that demands more because we have been made for more than what we perceive or settle for.
It is important to separate the idea of regarding our lowliness as a form of “self-hatred”, or some guilt enhancing exercise. It is by developing a deeper sense of self-awareness and a keener understanding of who our Lord is that can enable us to embrace a desire for humility as being rooted in love.
Through humility we are aware of our constant need for conversion and renewal through the grace, love, and mercy of our Lord.
Humility welcomes healing and freedom; it allows us to grow in other virtues. Saint Augustine reminds us that the foundation of all virtue is built upon humility, and that anything without this is empty and mere appearance.
Humility allows us to see who we are, all that we are not, and purifies our comprehension of who God is.
As we prepare ourselves to enter into the desert this Lent may we honestly seek to reconcile our understanding of the “dust” that we are.
We, Lord, are Your lowly servants. Help us to grow in the virtue of humility each day. Enable us to see the truth of ourselves and turn more fervently toward the truth found only in You. Help us to always welcome the transformation of your love and mercy in our lives. Keep us humble so that You may shine through us, and may the perceived greatness of our works always be done for your glory.
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