23 September, 2021 18:40

"…BE CLOTHED WITH HUMILITY…" (1 Peter 5:5).

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

"Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your
elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and
be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives
grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under
the Mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time"
(1 Peter 5:5-6).

"Humility is constant forgetfulness of one’s achievements,
someone says.
"It is the submission that in all the world one is the least
important and is also the greatest sinner," another says.
"It is the mind’s awareness that one is weak and helpless,"
a third says.
"It is to forestall one’s neighbor at a contentious moment
and to be the first to end a quarrel."
"It is the acknowledgment of Divine grace and Divine
mercy."
"It is the disposition of a contrite soul and the abdication
of one’s own will." (The Ladder of Divine Ascent)

According to Saint John of Kronstadt "to be humble means to consider ourselves deserving, for our sins, of every humiliation, injury, persecution, and even blows; and to be meek means to patiently endure injustice, abuse, and so forth, and to pray for our enemies." Humility is the mother and the foundation of all virtue. The Orthodox Christian learns from the most excellent of all examples our Savior Jesus Christ and that He Himself is the original, Divine, true, pure, and authentic humility. His entire earthly life is one of meekness and humility. "Learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29). Meekness is the mother of love, the foundation of discernment, and the forerunner of all humility. Our Savior Jesus Christ finds rest in the hearts of the meek, while the unholy spirit to the home of the evil one.

The pure of heart and humble are lead and guided by the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul writes: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:2-4). "Authentic humility means to understand reliality as it actually is in God." The believer can never go wrong if he models himself after the Head of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ. With the aid of humility the Orthodox Christian is able to overcome many of his/her spiritual obstacles and continue to successfully pursue the attainment the many other virtues and thus strengthen the "likeness" of God in us.

"God abides in the souls of the humble" say the Holy Fathers of the Church. Our Divine Creator Who sees and knows all is very aware who is and who is not sincerely humble. The Almighty God can never be deceived by us no matter how clever we think we are. Remember the Lord saying, "Before I formed you in the womb, I KNEW YOU" (Jeremiah 1:5). The Christian needs to always recall these Divine words and cease all efforts to shield his/her own sinfulness and hypocrisy. There can be no spiritual growth if we are in a state of denial of our soul’s impurities and weaknesses. We all stand naked before the Lord.

We, Orthodox Christians, must follow the good example of the venerable Prophets and strive to reafirm always our reliance upon God’s will and their hope in His mercy. Saint Simeon the New Theologian states, "Humility consists of obedience, patience, recognizing human weakness, thankfulness to God for everything–for both glory and dishonor, health and illness, wealth and poverty." The proud person places himself on a pedestal while the humble person debases himself. Jesus Himself make it very clear when He says, "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and eh hwho humbles himself wil be exalted" (Mattthew 23:11-12). Those who exalt themselves are abandoned by God.

In the Gospel of Saint Luke 18:11-14 the Lord says, The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘GOD. BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; FOR EVERYONE WHO EXALTS HIMSELF WIL BE HUMBLED, AND HE WHO HUMBLES HIMSELF WILL BE EXALTED." The Lord expects the believer to be profoundly humble and contrite and not boastful and arrogant. This is reafirmed in Psalm 50[51]: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart–These, O God, You will not despise" (vs.17).

Prayer must be honest, sincere, and as Saint Neilos the Ascetic says, "Let us prepare and adorn ourselves with all of our soul and heart and strength, and with all of our mind andd with profound humility… Let us express, with compunction and pain of heart, the confession of our sins which we, as fools, commit against God on a daily basis… Pray with much humility and then a greater desire will come to you from God, with yearning and grace, to approach Him with greater piety and more contrition…When the soul and the mind come together with piety and contrition and humility, and are united with prayer to become three, there in their midst certainly Christ will be found to do His own activity."

Saint John of Kronstadt writes: "We must by every means humble our hearts and subdue our proud intellect, lest we should be like the contemporaries ofthe Prophets, who looked on them only as sweet-voiced singers, and nothing more; they did not wish to fulfil their commands, they even despised, persecuted, beat, and killed them; lest we should be like those, by whom "no Prophet is accepted in his own country." However insignificant and unimportant the man may be, honor in him the image of God, especially when he speaks with love, and, above all, when he speaks of and does the works of love."

Saint John continues, "Consider yourself worse and more infirm than all others in spiritual respects, and despise, hate yourself for your sins, –this is pious and right — and be indulgent to others, respect and love them in spite of their sins, for God’s sake, Who commanded us to respect and love all men, and also because they are created after His image — although they bear the wounds of sin, and because they are members of Jesus Christ."

_____________
"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!

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