By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THE Magnificat, that most wonderful prayer of praise said by Our Lady during her visit to her cousin, Elizabeth, gives us the idea that in order for us to level up to the dignity of God’s image and likeness, children of his, sharers of his life and nature, we need to level down. (cfr. Lk 1,46-56)
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,” says Mary, “my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked upon his lowly servant.” Truly, it is Our Lady who fully lived these words of Christ, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Mt 23,12) How important, therefore, it is that we remain humble and grow more in humility even as we gain more prominence in life.
When we happen to receive praises and honors from others because of our good works, let’s keep our feet firmly stuck to the ground, not allowing ourselves to be intoxicated. We should not allow these praises and honors to go to our head and cast some evil spell over us.
Instead, we have to thank God profusely. All praises and honors belong to him. What we should realize also is that those praises and honors given to us are actually a sign that we have to give ourselves more to God and to others. Our sense of duty and responsibility should become sharper.
Those praises and honors that we receive are actually some kind of a test to see if we would still remain with God or we would now choose ourselves as our own god. We have to know how to pass that test, and so we need to really grow and deepen our humility.
We should never feel sad because we have chosen to deny ourselves to grow in humility amid the praises and honors. That self-denial is actually a big opening for the grace of God to come to us. That realization should make us very happy with a joy that would keep us simple, not proud and complicated.
We have to learn not to get spoiled by whatever praises and honors would come our way. Instead, let these honors trigger the urge to deepen our humility, to enrich our gratitude to God and to others, and to sharpen our sense of duty and responsibility.
This is the way to move toward that “fullness of Christ” that St. Paul talked about in his Letter to the Ephesians. (cfr. Eph 4,13) This is what actually meant for all of us. So, we can never overemphasize the crucial role that the virtue of humility plays in this regard.
Christ himself lived by this standard. St. Paul expressed this truth very beautifully when he said: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil 2,5-8)
Let’s remember that we cannot learn anything unless we are humble. Our prayer cannot prosper, cannot touch base with God, with the Spirit, when it is not done in humility. We cannot exercise political power properly, nor enjoy the true benefits of whatever fame and wealth we may have, if these are not lived in humility.