The other night as I was reading a chapter in The Life of Christ from the Visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich, I was struck by the humility of a certain Doctor of the Law whom Jesus reproached. Here is the passage:
“He taught on marriage and divorce. He reproached the Doctors for having made additions to the Law. He pointed to a certain place in a roll of parchment, accused one of the oldest among them of having inserted it, convicted him of fraud, and commanded him to erase the passage. The old man humbled himself before Jesus, even prostrating at His feet in the presence of all the others, acknowledged his fault, and thanked for the lesson received.”
Isn’t that amazing! Just think about how most of us squirm, become indignant and try to shift blame when someone rebukes us or points out our faults and shortcomings or even our sins.
Humility is like a balm of healing love that washes over us when we encounter it.
The One I most think about when I think of humility is Jesus Christ. In the little blue Pieta prayer book is a “True Letter From Jesus Christ.” In this letter He tells of the humiliating torments He endured before His Death on the cross:
“Be it known that the number of armed soldiers were 150; those who trailed me while I was bound were 23. The number of executioners of justice were 83; the blows received on my head were 150; those on my stomach, 108; kicks on my shoulders, 80. I was led, bound with cords by the hair, 24 times; spits in the face were 180; I was beaten on the body 6666 times; beaten on the head, 110 times. I was roughly pushed, and at 12 o’clock was lifted up by the hair; pricked with thorns and pulled by the beard 23 times; received 20 wounds on the head; thorns of marine junks, 72; pricks of thorns in the head, 110; mortal thorns in the forhead, 3. I was afterwards flogged and dressed as a mocked king; wounds in the body, 1000. The soldiers who led me to the Calvary were 608; those who watched me were 3, and those who mocked me were 1008; the drops of blood which I lost were 28,430.”
Benedetta DA S.S.; Pope Leo XIII, in Rome, 5 April 1890
When I read how Jesus was spit in the face 180 times and dragged around by the hair 24 times, I have nothing to complain about. I can’t imagine someone spitting in my face or dragging me around by the hair even once. I feel ashamed that I shrink away from humiliating circumstances and yet the God of all Creation lowered himself to become man, suffer His passion and die on a cross.
Philippians 2:8 : “He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.”