Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
I have always loved the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. There is something about praying them that truly makes me feel joyful. When I’m praying, I like to reflect on the virtue of each one. The first Joyful mystery is the Annunciation, in which the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is to become pregnant with Jesus. The virtue for that mystery is humility.
Humility isn’t just shrugging off a compliment or being modest. Humility, it seems to me, it more about understanding who God is and trusting that He is enough for us. In saying “yes” to God, Mary recognized that no matter what struggles she was going to face, God was in control and that the worldly comforts and achievements of this life aren’t more worthwhile than following God.
If there was anyone who deserved to blaze through their time on this Earth with glory and praise, it’s Jesus. But another of my favorite rosary mysteries, The Nativity, reminds me just how serious God takes humility. Born in humble circumstances, Jesus begins and ends his life in humility, as Philippians 2:8 says
Christ’s teaching on humility in Matthew 23:12 is challenging for me:
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” I am a complete and total people pleaser. I also have been. Teacher’s pet? This girl. Wants to win every award and be the best at everything? That’s me. My desire to lift myself up means that I am neglecting to lift Christ up. I am relying on my own ability and not the trust and care of the Lord. And trust me, those who exalt themselves, do indeed, eventually get humbled. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on across.”
This lent, I’m trying to turn my focus back towards the Lord. Lent is a season of humility. We are to pray, fast, reflect, and give to others without calling attention to ourselves. It can be hard for our human hearts to do good for the sake of doing good. Just look at the Pharisees! They were “doing” all the right things, but their hearts were not in the right place. To an outsider they were the picture of holiness, but to Jesus, all he saw was their self-satisfaction and pride. Learning to be humble takes time and practice, but fortunately, we have been given the greatest example of all: Jesus.
Reflect: Think of some situations where you have not been humble. What would have happened if you had changed that situation?
Act: Think of a way you can serve someone this Lent without them knowing it was you.