27 February 2018
One of the key purposes of Lent, it seems to me, is to re-establish the right order of things. We put God back on the throne and take ourselves off it.
It is about growing in humility. Or, in other words, simply recognising the truth. I am a sinner for whom Jesus died. Without Him, I am completely lost. That’s the truth. And in the wonderful paradoxical way that the kingdom of God works, embracing the truth of our own spiritual poverty is actually the way of exaltation. We go low to go high.
Jesus establishes this kingdom principle in the key line in today’s Gospel:
The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’
The more you opt for the lower place, the more God lifts you up.
The great saints of the Church got on to this early.
Saint Therese of Lisieux had a spirituality of littleness. In the late 19th Century the ‘elevator’ (we call them lifts) had just been invented and Therese loved the idea that as she was ‘too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection’ she might find an elevator to lift her up to God. She decided the elevator that would lift her to heaven would be the arms of Jesus Himself, if only she could be small and childlike enough. Therese, like her namesake the great Teresa of Avila before her, insisted on the unsurpassed value of the virtue of humility. They understood that if you really want to make progress in the spiritual life, the starting point is knowing how weak you are, and how much in need of grace.
Let’s pray for the grace to grow in humility this Lent. It’s all up from there.