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March 9, 2015

It was God's humility that prevented people from recognizing Jesus as saviour, and, even today, it is that humility that keeps us from following Christ. If there is one thing we need to learn in Lent, it is humility. But humility is not what we might think it to be.

Humility does not involve bowing before greatness; that is a simple recognition of truth. There is no humility in bowing before God; we are acknowledging the truth of God's infinite greatness. However, a failure to bow before God is not a mere lack of humility; it is audacity of the highest order.

To be humble is to bow before that which is less than oneself. It is when the boss bows before the employee or the human bows before the ant that humility is shown.

A sense of the hierarchy of being has mostly disappeared, a fact that makes it difficult to grasp humility. Our sense of equality has become overblown. Failure to recognize a hierarchical order in being means a failure to recognize God. In such a state, we will surely not recognize humility.

God reveals not only love, but also humility that is the fruit of love. To become human, wrote St. Paul, Christ emptied himself. He became less than he is, humbling himself and accepting the most ignominious form of death (Philippians 2).

God could have chosen a different way to save humanity. He could have filled us with his light and love directly. In that way, he would have avoided the pain of being human, the pain of dying on the cross.

The Son of God, conscious of his divine grandeur, however, revealed humility. His humility was not due to an inferiority complex or a phony pretending to be less than he was. Humility is what God is.

It was the humble God who mystified the Corinthians and Galatians, and who Christians will always find it difficult to follow. "We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Corinthians 1.23).

We honour sports heroes and other celebrities, but fail to recognize the humble person stuck away in a remote corner. Of course, we yearn to do great things ourselves and to be recognized for doing them.

But if we are following the God of Jesus Christ, we are called in a different direction. The way of humility is a hard path to walk and a difficult one in which to stay satisfied in those moments when we do succeed in walking it.