Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand
of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you.
1Peter 5:6

It was during the 18th century and a stormy night in Baltimore, Maryland, that a gigantic tree tore from its roots and fell across a busy road.  Those who traveled it by carriage or horse could not get through so a team of Army soldiers were dispatched to the scene.  Because of the tree's massive size, the men started with the branches first so that the tree could be dragged out of the way.  But the tree was still too heavy and would not budge even though the soldiers tried everything. The commanding officer, a big strong man who rode horseback, kept shouting "Move it!  Move it!   He sat there on his horse and ordered the group to keep at it without climbing down or lifting a hand to help. 

A man passing by on a white horse saw what was happening, and asked the officer,  "Why aren't you helping these struggling and sweating men instead of shouting at them?"  The officer  turned and said in a rage,  "Sir, I am the commanding officer here and it would be beneath my dignity to work along with them."  The traveler quietly removed his hat and coat and joined the soldiers and with all of them working as a team, they were able to move the tree and clear the road.  The traveler, wiping his sweating face, told the officer, "If this happens in the future, always call for the Commander in-Chief.  "Who are you anyway?" the Officer shouted as the rider, without answering, jumped onto his magnificent horse and swiftly rode away.  The officer stood looking at the man as he galloped out of sight, but turned when he heard his soldiers talking excitedly among themselves that this man who helped was none other than George Washington, the first President of the USA and Chief Commander of the Army.   The officer hung his head in shame when he realized the mighty status of the stranger who took the time to help others without pride but with humility.

This story is a prime example of being humble.  Would we have, as President of the USA, climb down from our horses to aid these workers, toiling to help them as they worked and sweated to move the enormous tree?  Some would probably say "I would help but this outfit I am wearing might get dirty or torn", or "I have important matters to tend to and my time is very valuable." 

Jesus came to us with true humility.  Even as the Son of God, He stooped to wash the feet of His disciples, never boasting of His Divinity and power, allowing Himself to be a servant to all mankind He encountered, leaving with us today the legacy He wants us to follow.  As believers, we must recognize that each talent and virtue that we possess comes from God and not from ourselves. When we encounter others who have been blessed with special abilities that surpasses our own, we must yield to their authority, giving honor to their talents, and they in turn must thank God for bestowing those talents.  St. Paul tells us  "In our 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, 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!"  -  See Philippians 2: 5-8

Father Rodney Kissinger, S.J, speaking on humility tells in part: "Humility is one of the virtues most characteristic of our Lord. It is the only virtue that He explicitly said that we should learn from Him.  Humility is also one of the most misunderstood and least appreciated of the virtues. It is not the virtue of the weak; it is the virtue of the strong.  Humility is not an inferiority complex, a negative self image, a cringing, fawning obsequiousness.  It is not the denial of the talents I have.  That would be a lie, and a lie can never be a virtue, it is a sin.  It doesn’t mean that we hide our talents. The Lord warned us about hiding our talents in the parable of the talents. If we hide them we lose them. Humility instead of suppressing our actions, inspires us to do and attempt great things because we are only instruments in the hand of God. We can do anything God wants us to do......Humility does not mean that we let people run over us. That would not be good for them and it surely wouldn’t be good for us... Jesus was simple as a dove in life-style and doctrine, meek and humble of heart but also thick skinned, tough as nails and wise as a serpent. He knew what was in man and was no respecter of persons.  He called a spade a spade and went right to the heart of the matter.  He called the Pharisees frauds and hypocrites and drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple.  Humility is truth.  It is true that I am a feeble, fickle, fallible, sinful human being.  But it is also true that I am gifted, graced, unique and indispensable.  I am an unrepeatable gift of God.  I have this inner core goodness that nothing can destroy.  And in spite of all my physical warts, psychological quirks and spiritual infidelities God loves me unconditionally with a love I cannot merit or ever be worthy of.  

"We don’t have to prove anything to God.  He knows us better than we know ourselves. He loves us not because of what we are but because of WHO He is. All we have to do is to drop our masks, come down off the pedestal and just be me. And be happy to be me. And we will find rest for our soul, and give great praise and glory to God. The way to humility is through humiliations. So today when you are humiliated, and you will be, maybe two or three times, instead of being upset and disturbed, be glad and rejoice because you are on your way to humility where you will find peace and rest for your soul. And He who is mighty can do great things for you." - Fr. Rodney Kissinger, S.J. was born in New Orleans on June 14, 1915. He has been a Jesuit for 71 years and a priest for 60 years.  He is 99 years old.  Presently Fr. Kissinger is "semi-retired", living at Ignatius Residence in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Read his full sermon on Humility at this link:    

John13: 3-5  reads,  "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. "In this significant passage we learn that our Lord that is the reality of true humility. He did not cling to the outward appearance of His Divinity, rather He took the form of a servant and showed Himself serving those around Him. 

The hardest lesson for us to learn is that of humility.  As humans we desire to appear important, someone of great value others look up to.  We feel talented and worthy of praise for something we did well. And so with pride, we cling to the idea that we are uniquely special.  Most importantly we forget to thank God for our blessings, instead we feel "puffed up", in a higher class than others, sometimes forgetting the originator of that success.  Like the washing of the feet that Jesus bent to do for His disciples, we must humbly look to the needs of those who are struggling and in need.  It is then that we become what God intends when we realize humility is the healing power which opens our hearts to see God's purpose that He has for us.

During the holy time of Lent, starting with Ash Wednesday heralding its beginning, the day that is indeed special is when we feel the ash that is put on our foreheads.   It becomes a strong reminder of what our Lord taught us about humility when the priest says, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and to dust we shall return".  It is a clear indication that all of us are the same but those who stand in self importance and pride must contemplate the loss of God's grace and the blessings He has to offer.

"Therefore it says, God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."  - James 5:4-6

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