We all carry within us the desire to “be like God”. It is the first temptation in the Bible that pierced the human soul. We long to be first or, better, unique. In anything. These desires to “be more”, by the way, are our most powerful engine of growth and maturation. We must not give up being first. Jesus proposes that we secure the first place in the Kingdom. “Whoever wants to be first must be last and servant of all“. The gospel does not criticise our seeking to be first, what it rejects is the way to achieve it. The way is service in the last place. That is where the humble are born and grow.

But beware of false humility! Luther says: The humility of hypocrites is the proudest pride. For there are two kinds of false humility. One is strategic. It occurs when we humble ourselves before others in order to extort praise from them. Another is sincere, but more harmful. It occurs in the person who despises himself because he finds nothing positive in himself. It is because of both excesses that humility gets such a bad press. To put it in its rightful place we have to purify it. How can we recognise true humility? How can we nurture it?

– First of all, we must be clear that to be humble we don’t have to do anything. It is enough to recognise that we are what we are, that’s all. We wouldn’t even have to talk about it. It would be enough to reject any hint of pride, vanity, boastfulness, vainglory, pride, haughtiness, arrogance, etc. St. Teresa is often alluded to, but the vast majority do not understand her when they say: “humility is the truth”. In reality she says: “humility is walking in truth“. It is to know the truth of what one is, and also to live (walk in and with) that reality.

– A full and honest knowledge of who we are would keep us from vainglory and, in turn, keep us from self-deprecating ourselves by seeing only our negative side. No. It is about discovering and accepting that we are creatures, with limitations, yes, but also with infinite possibilities. They are God’s gift to us. So let us not repress any of our values in the name of false humility. Nor should we believe ourselves to be superior or inferior to anyone. Let us not fall into servility, nor use humility to manipulate others.

– The humble person welcomes what others tell him or her with an open attitude, without defences or counter-replies, listening in silence. Others will only speak to him frankly, if no fear is instilled in them. In the presence of a meek person, everyone feels free to say everything clearly. The humble person neither frightens nor demands. He does not crave praise or hot air. Better still, he is not even aware of his humility. The moment he thinks he has it, he has lost it. Humility is not preached, it is practised. But the hard part is not putting the decision to be humble into practice, but getting there.

 

Juan Carlos cmf

(PHOTO: Mariana C.)

 

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