Abandoning Pride for Nobility
“This heart of mine is Yours, my Jesus, so take this heart of mine, fill it with Your love and then order me to do whatever you wish.” ~ Saint Padre Pio
On this the anniversary of his canonization 18 years ago today, who better to lead off today’s reflection on the topic of humility than the humble but mighty Franciscan Friar and stigmatist, the incomparable Saint Padre Pio, a man whose very life was rooted In humility and service.
“You must always humble yourself lovingly before God and before men, because God speaks only to those who are truly humble and He enriches them with His gifts” he would often say. “As gifts increase in you, let your humility grow for you must consider that everything is given to you on loan.” Pragmatic wisdom from a man who remains every bit as relevant today as he did during the 50 years in which he bore the very wounds of Christ.
In the case of Ahab in today’s 1st Reading (1 Kings 21:17-29), the path to humility took a few sharp and wicked detours as we saw yesterday https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Retaliatory-Free-Living. Elijah, wise to both Ahab and Jezebel’s evil tactics, those which resulted in a deadly false witness rap against Naboth perpetrated in order to illicitly rob him of him ancestral vineyard, called upon God to curse Ahab and his descendants. Having come to grips with the gravity of the situation and the profound depths of his sinful act, Ahab would rend his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh. He fasted and even slept in the sackcloth he bore, going about subdued in the face of his wickedness. It was then that God appeared to Elijah offering these powerful words
“Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his time.“
What a lesson in contrition and the power of God’s sanctifying grace, poured forth by way of his unrelenting forgiveness, the same forgiveness he offers to all those who come to him with a humble and contrite heart.
Humility is a tough virtue to acquire. It’s not particularly valued and rarely, it seems, even taught to our children with any degree of consistency in the “end-zone celebration” culture we live in today. Ernest Hemingway once said “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
Nobility. It’s a word reminiscent of another time, another place even. Webster defines the word nobility as “Having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals in both character and mind.” As we find ourselves at the midway point of June and therefore halfway through a month that some recognize as “Pride Month,” I can’t help but wonder when we as a Nation, a world for that matter, will pause to celebrate “Nobility Month.” As coveted virtues go, I’ll take nobility over pride every time.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta gave us what I consider to be the “roadmap to humility” if you will, painstakingly outlining the steps to the cultivation of a humble heart. Here was this most humblest of servant’s advice:
To speak as little as possible of one's self.
To mind one's own business.
Not to want to manage other people's affairs.
To avoid curiosity.
To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
To pass over the mistakes of others.
To accept insults and injuries.
To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.
To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
Never to stand on one's dignity.
”Find your own Calcutta” she would tell those who came to her for spiritual advice and wisdom. Saint Teresa knew that not everyone was called to the squalid and slummy streets of India to serve the forgotten and marginalized. But she also knew that we are all called to serve. Called, as Martin Luther King Jr once said, to greatness. “For greatness,“ he was always so quick to point out “is not measured by fame, but by service.”
Take a few moments today to escape from the never-ending doom and gloom news cycle and the talking/(screaming) heads that infiltrate and plague the cable new channels to reflect upon where you are as it relates to Saint Teresa’s list. Strive to go against the grain and choose humility and nobility as virtues to pursue. For to once again quote the great Saint Padre Pio, “God enriches the soul which empties itself of everything.“
“Today, O Lord, we choose to walk humbly with You. We choose to live by Your Holy Spirit and to follow Your lead. Help us to hear You clearly, for we do not want to walk by pride or self-sufficiency, we want to walk with You.“ ~ Amen