Gratitude initiates and intensifies true humility!
There is an often-told story about St. Martin de Porres regarding his humility. The setting of the story is when the priory is in financial difficulty. Everyone in the community decided to sell the valuable assets of the priory to cover living expenses. As soon as St. Martin heard about the convent's situation, he went to the superior and made a suggestion:
"I am just a poor mulatto. Instead of selling those precious things, please sell me. I am the property of the Order.”
What a surprising story! A friar humbles himself and makes sacrifices for the community, believing he is less valuable than the goods. What allowed him to do such a thing?
It is always possible for us to succumb to temptations, which, if we are not careful to recognize and avoid them, prevent us from possessing the same humility as St. Martin de Porres. That temptation is to live in outward humility! Many people these days often see humility as synonymous with lowering themselves. The more deeply you lower yourself, the more profound humility you will attain. However, is it necessary to keep lowering yourself, raising others above yourself, to have true humility? Or do we just have to choose things that no one wants to do, accept lower positions, live patiently, leave others to do whatever they want, and then we are living in humility according to the word of God? Such actions can be an expression of true humility, but that is not enough. Indeed, some people use this lifestyle as merely a strategy to get honored. Therefore, to reach true humility as St. Martin did, we must examine its foundation.
St. Martin lived a righteous life before God. He always acknowledged his sins and lowliness, his inability to deserve the grace that God gave him. His life was a constant thanksgiving, as he understood that everything he had was from God's grace and mercy. That true self-knowledge was the most fundamental starting point for His humility.
The essence of humility is not that we compare ourselves to others. It is not that the deeper one lowers oneself, the more humble one is. No! The foundation of humility is daring to look into one's own depths before God. When St. Martin sincerely acknowledged himself and believed that he was no better than anyone else, he was really looking into the depths of his heart. In that depth, we will know who we are and that all of us human beings, are fearful, vulnerable, extremely weak, and hopeless. So, can we still consider ourselves superior to others? Do we still dare to act as if we don't need God in our lives? True humility takes us further than lowering ourselves, because we now know that we are completely dependent on God. We are completely vulnerable to evil, death, and despair. All we can do is rely entirely on God's power and mercy.
Let us begin to live a humble life by recognizing the depths of who we are. Only in this way can a humble lifestyle give us a life of love and harmony with God and everyone. Acknowledging our own weaknesses, we will be able to entrust God with our lives. Thus, indirectly, humility helps us to be heralds of hope in a world of despair, pride, and opposition to God.
May St. Martin de Porres pray for us so that we can live that humility.
Br. Tam Nguyen, O.P. | Member of the Province of Vietnam | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE