Today's Gospel: Luke 13:22-30
I’ve never been a fan of being last at anything; my competitive nature demands that I seek first place in everything I attempt, be it a board game or the board room. Of course the subject of humility has always been a personally perplexing one; cognitively I grasp its value as a virtue, but practice does not always match theory.
I consider the gravity of Jesus’ words today in a manner that the choleric temperament would find refreshing, clear, and indisputable, He tells us that there are some righteous (or rather, self-righteous) among those who claim to be religious who will not be recognized by God upon their death; instead, they are called “evildoers” and are cast away from His sight into eternal fire. Jesus explicitly commands that in order to find favor in His eternal Presence we must seek to be last.
Jesus uses the narrow gate image to sober us and remind us that we really aren’t as spectacular or pious as we’d like to believe we are; in fact, humility requires submission and total abandonment to Divine Providence. Pride seeks ambition. Humility desires submission. Pride demands perfection. Humility embraces the gift of humanity.
There are two truths to entering the narrow gate: I am nothing without God, and I am everything with God. Progression in the virtue of humility requires both the admonishment of our ego as well as the fulfillment of God’s work in and through our lives. For many years, decades even, I attempted to either overcome pride or advance God’s Kingdom on earth but never both concurrently. It has only been in the last year or so when it struck me that both the emptying of myself and the fullness of God’s work in me must be occurring simultaneously in order for me to truly progress in the virtue of humility.
I suspect that all who read this will admit at least one personal struggle or weakness that is manifested as a subtype of the vice of pride. The antithesis of pride is the virtue of humility, which is the only virtue necessary and required for our sanctification. The assumption and hope is that as we grow in humility, so will we also advance in other virtues such as charity and patience.
Am I striving for God’s kingdom or my own ambitions? In what ways do I struggle with pride in my interior life? Am I actively pursuing ways to grow in humility? Have I considered spiritual direction or praying the Litany of Humility to learn specific ways to progress in the virtue of humility?
Jesus, your words today strike the core of my pride. I am humbled by Your Truth, and I both thank you for your righteousness and ask you for the grace to understand the ways you are calling me to serve others, to be an invisible prayer warrior, or to become empty so that you may fill me with humility and love. Amen.
Copyright 2014 Jeannie Ewing
About the Author
Jeannie Ewing believes the world ignores and rejects the value of the Cross. She writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. As a disability advocate, Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters and is the author of From Grief to Grace , A Sea Without A Shore , and Waiting with Purpose. Jeannie is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and contributes to several online and print Catholic magazines. She, her husband, and three daughters live in northern Indiana. For more information, please visit her website lovealonecreates.com.