God is stern with the arrogant, but to the humble he shows kindness. –1 Peter 5:5
Carl Jung told of a man who asked a rabbi, “How come in olden days God would show Himself to people but today nobody ever sees God?” The rabbi said, “Because nowadays nobody can bow low enough.” In the ordination ceremony for a priest, the one to be ordained lays prostrate before the altar for a period of prayer. At the start of Good Friday Liturgy the priest lays prostrate before the altar for a few minutes of prayer. Physical prostration of the body is an act of humility before God. We “bow low enough.”
To prepare ourselves for Sunday Mass we might imagine ourselves prostrate before the throne of God. This image in our minds will move our hearts, adjust our attitudes, empower our bodies, and engage our whole beings for the great act of worship.
In the letters of St. Paul, it seems at times that he is bragging about his greatness. But then he admits that it is all gift. “What do you (and I) have that you (and I) did not receive”(1 Corinthians 4:7). Humility leads right into gratitude.
Humility does not shroud our gifts or suppress our talents. Humility does not deny our abilities or demean our individuality. Humility does not make us invisible, inferior, or indifferent.
Instead, humility frees us from the fear of being noticed. We are who we are. Humility frees us from the anxiety of performance. We do the best we can. Humility frees us from the stress of people pleasing. We no longer need the approval of others. Humility frees us from the need to control our world. We know the outcome is not in our power.
Humility frees us from the need to be right. We accept our limits. Humility frees us from the fluster we feel for well-deserved praise. We used the gifts we were given. Humility frees us to be ourselves—at our best under all circumstances. Once we know the truth, that all good things come from God, we live in liberty.
Be prepared. “The one who humbles himself will be exalted.” -Luke 18:14 And God will be praised.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/