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GOSPEL COMMENTARIES


 

 

 

AN EXHORTATION ON HUMILITY (PALM SUNDAY)

Christ calls us to great action; so He places Himself and the Father as an exemplar to be imitated. They persecuted Me, so they will persecute you. Learn from Me. Be ye merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful. And when St. Paul exhorts us to be humble, he set Christ as the example, "Though He was rich, yet for your sakes, He became poor."

Man will only do great things if the example of great men are set before him, but more specially the example of God. Thus, St. Paul calls us to humility and sets Christ as the example, "He counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God but emptied Himself, taking upon Himself the form of a servant."

Humility is not the deprivation of your rights; it is not debasing oneself. It is freely laying aside the dignity we possess, confident we can take it up anytime. Christ could not lay aside His Divine Nature; so He hid it and freely made Himself inferior. He hid it, He emptied Himself, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death. How do you do this? "By each counting the other better than oneself." To be subjected not in accord with one's free will is not an act of humility.

Christ took up a human nature to teach us humility. "He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, yes, unto death on a cross."  His obedience was voluntary, like one's obedience to a friend. He served but did not fall into a servile state.

In His humility, He became a servant; and He went further, He underwent death; and He went further, He died an ignominious death, full of shame and accursed. The devil tried to disband His Church, first, by His death. If this did not work, he would try to disband the Church by the manner of His death.

What is to be humble? To be blamed, to be accused and calumniated. What is to be exalted? To be honored, to be praised, to be glorified. Satan was an angel; he exalted himself and he was humbled beyond all others. Paul was a man; he humbled himself.  Now he is praised, admired and lauded; he commanded the devil as a captive slave.

The publican was humble but his humility was not true humility in that he was behaving according to his level.

The proud and the humble both receive honors. But the proud seek the honors while the humble run away from it. It is nice to honor those who run away from it; it is disgusting to honor those who crave for it. Do not exalt yourself; let others do it.  Exalt yourself and others will not exalt you. Humble yourself and others will not humble you.

Pride is a great evil. It is better to be a fool than to be proud. Because being a fool is just an intellectual defect. Pride is a personality defect. A fool harms himself. A proud man harms even others. And a fool is seldom a proud man. But a proud man is always a fool. There is more hope in a fool than in a proud man.

St. Maximus of Turin

 

 

 

 

 

(02-02-04)

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