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Humility is Required for Healing

st john vianneySt. John Vianney likened the virtue of humility to that of the chain in the Holy Rosary.  He said, “Take the chain out of the rosary and all the beads fall to the ground.  Take humility out of the spiritual life and all virtues vanish.”  When I read that a few years ago, I was very convicted.  Humility is not my strong suit.  However, the good news is I am aware of that fact.  There are many men whom I have encountered over the past 10 years who also struggle with living out the virtue of humility in their daily lives.  Again, it is good news that we know we struggle with it.  When you know your weakness, you also know where your strength lies.  Yes friends, my strength lies with my lack of humility.  For it is by humbling myself that I grow in the spiritual life and I become more like Christ.  Lets examine this further in light of the healing that we are seeking in our own lives.

Christ humbled himself by taking on our humanity.  At Catholic University in Washington D.C. back in the early 90s, one of my undergraduate philosophy professors equated Christ becoming human to us becoming a dog.  We are so far beneath God that his comparison was fair I think.  Yet, isn’t that the paradox of our God?  If you want to be rich, sell everything you own (Matthew 19:21).  If you want to be first, be last (Mark  9:35).  If you want to be my disciple, take up your cross and follow me (Mark 8:34).  Christ exhorts his disciples, “Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29).  Jesus, the King of Kings, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the divine physician is literally humility incarnate.

As we approach Jesus seeking answers to our life’s struggles, let us consider how those who approached Him in the New Testament presented themselves to Him.  They did so with great humility.  Two examples of this disposition in Sacred Scripture is the centurion and the woman who has been hemorrhaging for twelve years.   The centurion said,  “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8).  As God would have it, the woman hemorrhaging for twelve years is the Gospel reading at today’s Mass.  “She said to herself, ‘If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured'” (Matthew 9:21).  What do these two distinctly different people have in common as they come upon the Son of Man?  Humility.  They know themselves and they are in touch with their weaknesses.  They proclaim their weakness before the Lord both in word and posture.  Their presentation speaks volumes as to their own struggles and defects of character.  Christ is pleased with such.  He heals them immediately at their request.  He says to the woman, “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you” (Matthew 9:22).

christ on the crossSo I proclaim to you my friends in the same spirit as Christ once did, take Courage!  Present yourself and all your warts before the Lord.  Expose your wounded nature and past hurts to the only person who will receive them as gifts and the only one who can use them for a greater glory and purpose.  He wants you to humble yourself and come to Him with all your baggage.  That’s right!  All your resentment, bitterness, brokenness, unforgiveness, distrust, shame, guilt, anxiety, anger, frustration, selfishness, pride, vanity, laziness, and all our sinful tendencies must be laid at the feet of Jesus on the cross.  You are not worthy to do so, but by virtue of Christ taking on our human nature, we have become worthy.  He died for our sins and He desires nothing more than to unite our sufferings with His on the cross.   Our lives are a continuation of His own.  His suffering is now our suffering.  Every time we are beaten down, we live the life of Christ.  Every time we are rejected, we live as Christ lived.  Every time we are wounded by our own selfish choices, we experience the wounded heart of Jesus.  Nothing we experience in this life is ever without the ability of God to use for good.

Again friends, it is by humbling ourselves that we truly enter into our strength as Catholic Christian men and women.  Not an easy thing to do, but we must remind ourselves that we are nothing and we can do nothing good without God.  As St. Paul taught, “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 2:9-10).  If we want to find God’s healing presence in the midst of our pain, then we must present ourselves to Him humbly.  We must become weak.  All the while maintaining the disposition that it is not for us to know why we have suffered the way we have suffered, but to accept the gift of the suffering–the gift to be more like Christ.

Finally, in the litany of humility we hear the beautiful refrain, “Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.”  It is a good request and prayer unto the Lord.  As we approach our Lord with our many needs, wants and desires for ourselves, may we each have the courage to recite such words.  As I attempt to humble myself more each day, I pray that you may discover in your weakness, your greatest strength, and that together, we may have the grace to humbly approach Jesus.

In Christ’s love,

Mark Houck