Complete daily experiences with humility and faith
Published 3:05 pm Saturday, June 25, 2022
By Fr. Jonathan Filkins
Humility is an odd commodity. It is all a matter of perspective, really. The Roman Catholic Cathedral in Mexico City sits in the center of large square city block, with vast expanses of volcanic paving stones at the approaches. Each day, several pilgrims will march on their knees slowly, painfully, approaching the entry doors; arising only when they have climbed the steps. In the Philippines, pilgrims will reenact Christ’s suffering on the cross. Each is confident they are being humble before God.
We know St. Peter to have constantly wrestled with being a humble person. We know him to have had a hot temper and a strong will. We also know Peter addressed Christians who were, and are, being persecuted for their faith. He is presenting the theme of salvation of the believer and the submission of the believer.
The foundation for Christian humility is a completely dependent attitude towards God and His ability to rescue us from our sins. We, as true Christian believers, must remain centered in the truth that we are not the center of the universe. We must turn our concentration away from our selfish selves, away from our earthly situations, no matter how seemingly important; or however painful. The committed Christian’s bedrock foundational belief takes it for granted that God is in the supreme control of all of our lives. It is though our unreserved trust, through our unreserved belief in Him that we are brought to proper humility.
Consider the tragedy of the sinking of the passenger-liner “Titanic.” The passengers and crew were entirely dependent upon the acts of those who came before, in the design of the ship, but more importantly, upon those who came to the rescue. They had to submit to the reality of too few lifeboats and ships too far away. How many decided to use their own Victorian sense of purpose, the pride of self-sufficiency aboard this “unsinkable ship,” in their plans to survive? How many more may have been saved, if the lifeboats had been placed in the care of God and overloaded upon the glassy sea? You can see, that humility, before God, is many times an act of confidence, not timid shirking, or stoic indifference.
Being humble is not a matter of downcast eyes or, necessarily, a retiring manner. At the very mention of the name Uriah Heep, and hearing, “I’m only an ‘umble clerk, Mr. Copperfield.” we envision anything but a humble man. We soon learn that Heep is, the devil, in sheep’s clothing.
In our humility towards God, we are empowered to resist. We stand firm in the Faith with our brothers and sisters throughout the world. By standing firm, we are immovable in the full reliance on our Lord and Savior and for His victory. We can be assured of two immutable truths: First, it is quite possible for us, as Christians, to reject and defeat the devil. For through Jesus Christ there is eternal hope. Secondly, we are not isolated and given to our own struggles. To paraphrase the Irish poet John Donne, “No Christian is an island entirely unto themselves.”
In speaking to us, perhaps Peter is reminiscing about earlier days spent fishing around Capernaum; on the Sea of Galilee, struggling with the nets and making constant repairs, dealing with the daily wear and tear of living for God in a hostile world. From a spiritual perspective, we too are fishermen. Our beliefs, our spiritual nets, may be torn and rent by this, our sinful world. In prayer and contemplation, we leave this hostile earthly environment and commune with God in the quiet of our hearts, minds and souls; to be refreshed, restored and renewed.
If today, we are being a bit self-conscious about our weaknesses, or helplessness, let us remember that regular personal divine action will resolve this need. Fully opening ourselves to God and His mercy will keep the darkness at bay. Strength comes in the regular exercise of our spiritual muscle; no less than the physical and moral muscles. Daily experiences, completed with a proper humility and understanding, will allow every Christian to grow ever stronger with their Creator.