“Observe a tree, how it first tends downwards, that it may then shoot forth upwards. It fastens its root low in the ground, that it may send forth its top towards heaven. Is it not from humility that it endeavors to rise? But without humility it will not attain to higher things. You are wanting to grow up into the air without a root. Such is not growth, but a collapse.” (St Augustine, The Gospel of John, Sermon 38)
Theroots of the soul are in humility, the roots of discipleship are servanthood. St Gregory of Nyssa explains: “Let vanity be unknown among you. Let simplicity and harmony and a guileless attitude weld the community together. Let each remind himself that he is not only subordinate to the brother at his side, but to all. If he knows this, he will truly be a disciple of Christ” (On the Christian Mode of Life, 8.1)
Rooting ourselves in humility and servanthood comes in stages: First, it is important to put order to our life. It is wise to comb through our intentions asking why we do what we do. Often we may find that we do things for many reasons, some of the reasons we do things are selfish and others are not. For example, if we ask why we work, we may be able to give several answers, some may be vain others may be beautiful. Our first task is to ask God to help us to put first things first. The primary reason we do things is for God and our brothers. Order our intentions to service. Every good job can be done in a spirit of service.
Second, begin to form habits of humility. Structure your daily routine by thinking of others. Seek ways to make it easy to lay down your life for those whom you love. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, rather breakdown your daily routines into little chunks, and work on one thing at time. For example, just work on your morning routines. Wake every day thinking of God in prayer, and wake every day with a desire to serve.
Third,do not be afraid to fight, all good things in the spiritual life come with struggle. God will give you the strength if you turn to Him. There seem to be two extremes which we have to fight. Either we think too much about ourselves and our own feelings or we neglect ourselves. Rather all things should be tempered by justice first, when we act we should meditate on whether or not what we are doing is right and fair. Once justice is established or recognised mercy comes to temper it. The spiritual warfare seems to always be a struggle to establish both justice and mercy in our own hearts and lives.
Humility is a virtue that is worth fighting for. It is the root of our souls that allows the soul to rise towards the heavens. Let us pray that in the midst of the chaos of our daily lives, humility and service may be the pillar that holds everything together. That souls may soar into Love of God.
Fr Michael Thérèse