By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THIS is the lesson we can learn from that episode of Mary visiting her cousin, Elizabeth. (cfr. Lk 1,39-56) Imagine our Lady, already knowing that she was going to be the mother of the Son of God, the highest honor and privilege a creature can have, offering her services to her cousin who was also conceiving a son who would turn out to be only the precursor of the one in Mary’s womb!
This is what the intimate and mutual relation between humility and greatness looks like. When one is truly humble, it can only show the greatness of his heart. And when one is great in stature and dignity, he knows he is there to serve more than anything else. True greatness is never shown in pride and vanity. It is proven and verified in humility.
Mary perfectly mirrors the humility and greatness of Christ himself who, as St. Paul said, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on across!” (Phil 2,6-8)
This mutual relation between humility and greatness is expressed when we manage to value others, whoever and however they are, above ourselves and when we look after their interest instead of our own. (cfr. Phil 2,3-4)
This is what we clearly see in the life of Christ. Let’s call to mind that stunning example of his when he shocked his apostles when he started and insisted to wash their feet at the Last Supper.
For us to have this humility and greatness in our life, we need to be always with Christ and Mary. We need to be in constant conversation with Christ and Mary, referring everything to them, asking them for the answers to our questions, clarifications to the many issues we have to grapple with in life, strength for our weaknesses and temptations, contrition and conversion after our falls, etc.
We should do everything to keep this state of humility alive in us all the time. We know very well how easy it is for us to take this virtue for granted. We have to realize more vividly how vulnerable we are to the ways of pride, arrogance, self-centeredness, desire for power and domination, etc. Humility keeps us guarded against these dangers.
And when we happen to receive praises and honors from others because of our good works, let’s keep our feet firmly stuck to the ground, not allowing ourselves to be intoxicated. We should not allow these praises and honors to go to our head and cast some evil spell over us.
Instead, we have to thank God profusely. All praises and honors belong to him. What we should realize also is that those praises and honors given to us are actually a sign that we have to give ourselves more to God and to others. Our sense of duty and responsibility should become sharper.
Those praises and honors that we receive are actually some kind of a test to see if we would still remain with God or we would now choose ourselves as our own god. We have to know how to pass that test, and so we need to really grow and deepen our humility. That is how we can be truly great!