Continuing to look into Kempis’s chapter on humble submission (2,2), we come across the words in the headline. We have gone far afield if we believe that with our own power we will legitimately avoid the malevolence of others. In a world that militates against the truth, only by compromising the truth might we temper malice at least temporarily, and ultimately to our own destruction. Rather, we are to live and speak the truth boldly (always in love), recognizing that it is “sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow” (Heb 4:12) . In other words, the truth hurts. But “[f]or he whom God will help, no man’s malice can hurt.” With God on our side, we need not fear the world.
Isaiah, in one of his servant songs, gives us a prophecy we easily recognize as Jesus during His Passion. Despite the horrendous injustice, insults, blasphemies, and tortures He endured, Jesus was “not disgraced” and not “put to shame,” as it says later in that same verse. To most observers that day on Calvary, and for many more observers throughout the ages, this manner of execution could not have any redeeming value. Yet it was for our redemption that the God-Man endured all of this for us. “[H]e humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him,” Paul tells the Philippians in the second reading (2:8-9). His Father was His help; the vindictiveness of man was no match. His Father was His help, therefore He was not disgraced.
Nothing anyone does to us can disgrace us when we humbly trust in God. Only we have the ability to dis-grace ourselves by mortal sin through pride (i.e., we think we know better than God how to behave) which kills God’s life within us.
[D]o not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. (Mt 10:28)
Ecce Homo (contemporary) by Michael O’Brien