Raniero Cantalamessa in his book, ‘Life In the Lordship of Christ’ writes, ” The Apostle Paul tell us that best place in which to practice the humility-charity revealed by Christ is, as I have already said, the christian community. Not to seek one’s own interest but those of others, not to aim at pleasing oneself but others and to place others first are all statements that recall the words of Jesus about becoming the servants of all. The change from humility to charity comes about, above all, though the right use of charisms: We have gifts that differ according to the grace given us. (Rom 12:6) Humility-charity in the condition for these graces given to each one and they should not be dispersed but used to build the ‘one body of Christ’ (Rom 12:5) As each has received a gift (charism), employ it for one another. (1 Pt 4:10) As charisms are given for service, they can only be protected by humility. At this point, I should like to talk first about how humility protects charisms, and then about how, on the contrary, charisms protect humility.
First of all, let us look as how humility protects charisms. For as in one body, we have many members, so-the Apostle says-even if we are spiritually one body only, we have different charisms. At this point he lists some of these charisms: some have gift of prophecy, others of service and still others of teaching or admonition; there are those that preside, those who do acts of mercy and so on. (Rom 12:6-8) These are not just ordinary gifts or simple human talents. Charisms are the work of the Holy Spirit, sparks of God’s fire entrusted to us for the Church. Yet, although we have this treasure, we are still just poor creatures. How can we manage not to spoil ourselves and this treasure? That is where humility comes in. It is through this virtue that the grace of God passes and circulates in the Church and in humanity without being dispersed or contaminated. Humility is the ‘insulating’ wire of the Church. Insulating wire is very important and essential to progress in the field of electricity. In fact, the higher the tension and the stronger the electric power passing through the wire, the more resistant the insulator must be to impede the discharging of the current and short circuits. There would be no progress in the field of electricity if there was no corresponding progress in the technology of the insulator. In the spiritual life, humility in the means of insulation which impedes the dissipation of the current of divine grace, or even worse, of the sparking off of the flames of pride. The stronger the current of grace is in the person due to personal holiness or the office he hold, the stronger the humility must be. We have this treasure in earthen vessels- the Apostle said-to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Cor 4:7) the ‘clay’ is the insulator protecting and preserving the treasure. It preserves it from the two most frequent dangers to which God’s gifts are exposed: selfishness and conceit. In the text quoted at the beginning the Apostle said: Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourself. Humility appears ti be the antidote to ambitions, or rivalry. Saint Francis of Assisi loved to say: ‘Even though the Lord, the Blessed Virgin and God are honored and remembered through wooden statues and painted images, the wood and painting do claim praise for this. God’s servant too, is like a picture, a creature made in God’s image, in whom God is honored in all his benefits. God’s servants, therefore, just like the wooden statue, must claim nothing for himself; the honor the glory belong to God alone, while the servant claims only shame and sorrow, because, as long as we live, our flesh is in rebellion against the Lord’s grace.’ (Legenda Perugina 104) In a community there are always important tasks to be done which are attractive to the ‘old’ self and humble tasks that no one-if we gave into the flesh-would want to do. How can we get around this? Humility helps is not ot aspire to great things but ‘to choose what is humble.’ (Rom 12:16)
Thought for the day: The way to go up to God is by going down in humility. The greater gifts that you have in the body of Christ the greater humility you must have. John Paul II favorite title was, ‘servant of the servants of God.’
Today pray for the gift of humility. Look not after your own interest, but look after the interests of others.