This first Friday truly corresponds to Holy Friday. It would be therefore right to meditate on the Passion and Death of Jesus. In fact, it is through these that we have been redeemed, and we can earn Heaven. All the Sacraments, through which salvation is gained, have gushed out from His tortured body.
One day I heard an important person who said: “Why did Jesus come on earth, and want to suffer so much? According to me there was no need. We would be saved equally.” I responded that, although he is well educated, he had no understanding of the necessity of the Passion and Death of Jesus. If Jesus was not embodied, we would not have been able to know the many truths of God, of the Most Holy Trinity, and above all the Holy Spirit would not have come to us, through which we have been able to receive Baptism, that gives us the Divine life, and allows us to achieve sanctification.
Today, however, I want to speak to you of a particular aspect of the Passion of Jesus: HUMILITY.
St. Paul writes in the letter to the Philippians: “He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Ph. 2,7 DR); further on he says: “He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death.” (Ph 2,8 DR). Therefore, the virtue that Our Lord has particularly practiced during His Passion has been humility. And it was well and good that He practiced it first after having recommended it to His Disciples. Many Times, in the Gospel, Jesus speaks of humility and of the necessity of such virtue. The clearest recommendation is: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself” (Mt 16,24 DR). And elsewhere he affirms: “Because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted” (Lk 14,11; 18,14). Jesus accepted the most atrocious humiliations during His Passion, in particular when they spit in His face, this is the worst way of despising a person, but also when they bared him for the scourging and the crucifixion. When then they struck him and insulted him, he kept silent, and no word did He utter: this is written is in the Gospel. Therefore Jesus put into practice what he taught. That is why He also demands from us the practice of such virtue, if we want to be His true disciples. In Heaven there is place only for the humble ones, for those people who know how to accept the death of their own will, because it is the most difficult to eradicate from ourselves. In fact, how ready we are to defend ourselves, and at times also with heavy words, towards those people who observe and point out our faults, that reproach us, or they offend us. We feel inside such a rebellion that prevents us from bending the head to make an act of humility. Let’s remember that only in the humble God reigns with His Grace and His peace. In the highflier the devil reigns, with desperation, jealousy, envy, wickedness, and revenge.
Let’s now consider some aspects of Humility:
The first aspect is not to think too highly of oneself, believing to be something, but to rather think of ourselves as dust and vanity. In fact, it is written in Psalm 143: 3-4DR: “Lord, what is man, that thou art made known to him? or the son of man, that thou makest account of him? Man is like to vanity: his days pass away like a shadow.” And St. Paul says: “For who distinguisheth thee? Or what hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1Cor 4,7 DR). Here therefore is the first attitude to be held, and that the Lord agreed so much: to think himself nothing, not to give himself importance. Not being prideful because we have some abilities, or of the prosperity or good health. On Ash Wednesday the Priest tells us: “Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.” Only God is everything. Men who live only to gain pride for their position or wealth; their lives ended very bad, above all the Heads of State: we have lately had an example of it.
The second aspect of humility is not worrying ourselves if the others have little respect of us. It doesn’t really serve anything being esteemed and appreciated. A lot of people in fact, get used to being applauded and fall into despair and feel lost when applause and notoriety ends. God seeing those people who are considered important characters, even stars or divas, laughs from Heaven. The glory of this world passes in a hurry and those people who are given over to it stay deceived, and terrible will be the judgment of God on them. Poor people: they are to commiserate and not to imitate!
The third aspect of humility, and the most important point, is to accept gladly, for love of God, the contempt of others, to be crushed under foot. This is hard indeed, but it is that humility that the Saints have appreciated, and looked for in all the ways during their life. A glowing example we have in St. Francis of Assisi, who, before giving birth to his Franciscan Order, not only abandoned all of his possessions, but passed from house to house to ask for charity, and he was happy, and thanked people when they insulted him, derided him, despised him and abused him. These humiliations made him pleasant to not only men, but above all to God. We can say then: “He who is despised by men, is more beloved by God”. Humility, after faith, is the most important virtue to be true friends of God. He who does not have it must attempt to acquire it, above all keeping silent when he is offended, as Jesus did. Blessed are those who will understand this reality and who put it into practice: one day they will be great saints in Heaven!
If there were more humble people, things would be all right, because all the other virtues would also mostly be practiced, above all charity, patience, goodness and pardon.
Dear friends, since we all have our good dose of haughtiness, let’s ask to the Lord to make us humble, reciting many times this little prayer: “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.”
Good Easter to everybody! My regards and blessings from the heart!
Padre Luigi Graziotti