“What can anyone do to you by words or injuries? He hurts himself more than you; nor can he escape the judgment of God, whoever he be.” (IC 3,36,3) | “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Mt 23:12)

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXXVI: “Against Useless Judgments of Men” (second entry)

We are not to fear anything a human person can do to us; our only concern is what God ultimately will do with us. Mortals come and go, but God — and our soul — remains forever. All will get their due at the judgment.

|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 23:1-12

Jesus, not one to hold back when He detects hypocrisy, and, in addition, not sparing in criticism of the biggest hypocrites with whom He had dealings, the scribes and Pharisees, denounces them strongly here. Jesus recognizes their God-given authority and the truth of their teaching, thus telling the people to heed their words, but comes down hard on their practices which do not follow their preaching. The key to overcome this problem: humility manifesting itself in service to all others.

|Reflection

I think it is fair to say that if Kempis could sum up in one word what the imitation of Christ is, it would be “humility.” It is a continuous thread through the entire text of his most famous work. Humility will be exalted on the day of judgment; pride goes before a fall. The first sin was pride (I know better than God what is good for me — boy that apple looks good) so is it any wonder that it is the most prominent fault found in the world these many millennia later? When we culpably sin we exhibit pride — we did it our way. When we show humility, as in Kempis’s example in the headline, we overcome the temptation for revenge. Many great saints were dealt with viciously in word and action, sometimes accused of heinous acts of which they were totally innocent. Yet, they often took these humiliations as an opportunity, permitted by God, to reflect on their true sins and to show even greater humility. This attitude tends to go against every fiber of our being. This only indicates our fallen nature and how far we are from perfection.

Christ Washing the Feet of the Apostles (1475) by Meister des Hausbuches

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s