Tuesday, April 23, 2024
23.2 C
Sydney

Palm Sunday: Following our humble Lord

Most read

In the Christian tradition, both east and west, humility is praised by the saints as a necessary virtue. One that led to the glorification of Christ.
In the Christian tradition, both east and west, humility is praised by the saints as a necessary virtue. One that led to the glorification of Christ.

God who reigns over all of creation accepts to be one of us, suffering unimaginable pain and distress, and is executed and buried in the depths of the earth.

In doing so, the Father reveals who God is to us and opens to us the way to rise with his Son into glory and share in God’s very life and happiness.

In his advice to Christians who want to grow in the spiritual life, St John of the Cross writes in Ascent of Mount Carmel that the first thing is to have an “habitual desire to imitate Christ” in everything that we do, conforming ourselves to his life. And that we must meditate on Christ’s life to learn how to do this in our own circumstances.

- Advertisement -

We only perceive glimmers of God’s glory here—in special moments of life, in loved ones, nature, or prayer. It’s easy to be grateful for these, as we should be. But we have no way of imitating Christ in his glory.

As St John writes, “we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.” (1 Jn 3:2)

But what we can do of ourselves and as Christ himself asked us, is to “empty ourselves” (Phil 2:6) in order imitate him who on Palm Sunday is shown to be “gentle and humble in heart.” (Mt 11:29)

Like Jesus, who took the form of a servant in human likeness and spent most of his life in obscurity, normal daily events may, with the Holy Spirit’s help over a lifetime, make any ordinary person resemble Christ.

In the Christian tradition, both east and west, humility is praised by the saints as a necessary virtue. It is humility, “even unto death on a cross” (Phil 2:8), that led to the glorification of Christ.

Throughout her great teachings on prayer another Carmelite, St Teresa of Avila, is adamant that humility is essential for authentic prayer and the ability to love others, and a gift from God as well as a virtue to be practiced.

It is not the same as allowing ourselves to be abused by others, debasing ourselves, or thinking badly of ourselves – although God does call certain people to persecution and martyrdom.

“we can agree that it’s a shame if I waste energy preserving my ego when I could instead be more gracious towards God and my neighbour.”

More likely for most Christians humility means the freedom of accepting ourselves simply as we are, so we may live more truthfully in relationship to God and other people.

“Humility drew the king from heaven to the womb of the virgin, and with it, by one hair, we will draw him to our souls,” writes St Teresa.

“Realise that the one who has more humility will be the one who possesses him more; and the one who has less possesses him less.”

Sometimes it’s not clear what humility looks like in our individual circumstances in Sydney in 2023.

But we can agree that it’s a shame if I waste energy preserving my ego when I could have instead been a little more gracious towards God and my neighbour.

Who hasn’t lost time being upset over some small “trespass” against them? Or by being too proud to think we don’t need anyone’s help?

Or is it hard for us to believe it when we hear in a homily that God really does love us? Do we feel undeserving of praise or help?

The coming days bring us an opportunity for a week-long retreat, closely watching Jesus as we follow him to his Passover, the cross and the tomb.

We might notice the freedom with which Christ accepts both honour and disgrace, and see how he’s given up everything for us.

Can we not sometimes let go of our carefully calibrated sense of self-possession and allow God to possess us more fully this Easter in return?

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -