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  • Thursday ,11 August 2011

Life of humbleness & meekness (6)

Pope Shenouda Article


Sunday ,07 August 2011

Life of humbleness & meekness (6)

    The humbleness of the Son: 

1. His Incarnation is the first aspect of His humbleness: "Being in the form of God … made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself …" (Phil 2: 6- 8) Can there be more humbleness than emptying Himself of all aspects of greatness and honor meet for His divinity and taking the form of a bondservant! 
Such humbleness reveals the wisdom of the divine dispensation, for the first sin entered into the world by pride, both of man and of Satan, so the Savior had to overcome it by humbleness. 
Thus His Incarnation in the form of man was the greatest aspect of humbleness, by which He put to shame the pride by which Satan tempted our first parents to be like God (Gen 3: 5). 
2. In His humbleness the Lord chose a very modest place to be born in, a manger, to a poor mother engaged to a poor carpenter, from a village that was the least among the rulers of Judah, in Bethlehem (Mt 2: 5, 6). He was not ashamed to belong to Nazareth, which people wondered, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (Jn 1: 46)
3. In His humbleness He lived away from manifestations and titles: He willed to flee form Herod's sword to Egypt, though He was able to destroy him. He lived for thirty years away from the scope of light.
Although in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, He accepted to be described as increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Lk 2: 52).
Throughout His ministry He had nowhere to lay His head (Lk 9: 58). He had no official post, and His followers were simple disciples, most of them uneducated fishermen. He went into Jerusalem sitting on a donkey and a colt (Mt 21: 5).
4. He was obedient to the law, and called for keeping it. He said, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." (Mt 5: 17, 18)
In His obedience and submission to the law, He got circumcised on the eighth day (Lk 2: 21). After forty days of His birth, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord … and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." (Lk 2: 22, 23)
In obedience to the law He started His ministry only when He became thirty, the age of maturity although in the age of twelve, they found Him sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers (Lk 2: 46, 47).  
5. In His humbleness He went to be baptized by John the Baptist, the baptism of repentance, which He needed not, being the Holy One (Lk 1: 35). In His incarnation He resembled us in everything except sin. He accepted to be baptized by one of His servants, John, who wanted to apologize, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?" But the Lord in His humbleness said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." (Mt 3: 14, 15) He meant the righteousness of the law to which He submitted with humbleness.
6. In His humbleness He permitted the devil to tempt Him thrice. So deep was His humbleness that He allowed the devil to take Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and show Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and say to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." (Mt 4: 8, 9) So insolent and daring was the devil in benefiting from the Lord's humbleness! But when the Lord said to him, "Away with you" the devil immediately left Him! Yet, we read in (Lk 4: 13) that the devil having ended every temptation, departed from Him until an opportune time. This means that he returned again. 
7. In His humbleness, the Logos, the Only-begotten Son, led a life of obedience: "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Phil 2: 8) He Himself said to His disciples, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." (Jn 4: 22- 24) And to the Jews He said, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do," (Jn 5: 19) and to the Father He said, "Not as I will, but as You will." (Mt 26: 39; Jn 6: 41; 5: 19)
His obedience was not only to the heavenly Father, but also to His mother Mary. He was subject to her and to Joseph (Lk 2: 51). What a lesson from Him, to whom even the angels ministered and submitted (Mk 1: 13; 1 Pet 3: 22)!
8. In His humbleness He sat with the tax collectors and sinners who the scribes and Pharisees disdained and avoided. He even chose one of them, Matthew, to be among His disciples. On that occasion He sat at the table with those tax collectors, and when the Pharisees criticized Him, He in humbleness said to them, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." (Mt 9: 13)
He entered the house of Zaccaeus the tax collector. He also visited the houses of His enemies the Pharisees, like Simon the Pharisee, in whose house He permitted a sinful woman to touch Him and wipe His feet with the hair of her head (Lk 7). 
9. In His humbleness the Lord behaved simply towards everybody, including children and women. He spoke to them without haughtiness, as One of them.
On many occasions He called Himself "the Son of Man". For His meekness He was described as: "He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench." (Mt 12: 19, 20)  
10.  In His humbleness the Lord refused to work miracles for showing   up. He refused to command that the stones become bread, or to throw Himself down so that the angels might carry Him on their wings (Mt 4). Moreover, when the Jews asked Him to show them a sign, He turned their eyes to His death and gave them the sign of the prophet Jonah, saying, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Mt 12: 39- 40)
11.  In His humbleness He glorified His disciples. He said to the Father about them, "The glory which You gave Me I have given them." (Jn 17: 22) He furthermore said, "He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do." (Jn 14: 12) In this concern St. Paul the Apostle said, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined … these He also glorified." (Rom 8: 29- 30)
He also permitted that churches and altars be built after their names, icons be painted for them, candles be lit before their icons, and praise songs and doxologies be chanted for them.
12.  In His humbleness He works with His grace in everybody secretly. The work of people appears, while the Lord's grace working within them is invisible, as St. Paul the Apostle said, "By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Cor 15: 10)
13.  In His humbleness He endured the oppression of the wicked, and accepted the insults silently. He was abused, slapped, whipped, and accused falsely without defending Himself or retaliating their evil: "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter," He was crucified between two thieves, and was "numbered with the transgressors" (Isa 53: 7, 12)
14.  In His humbleness He put on Himself the sins of the whole world (1 Cor 5: 21) "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." "We esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted." (Isa 53: 6, 4) Though righteous He was crucified as an evildoer, and was pleased to be a sin Sacrifice before the Father.
15.  In His humbleness He revealed His crucifixion to everybody, whereas His glorious resurrection He revealed only to a few! He could have made His resurrection a dazzling show to everybody to restore His dignity before the Jews, but in His humbleness He did not do. He left it to His disciples to announce it amidst the doubts raised by the Jews.
16.  He called us to learn humbleness from Him: "Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart." (Mt 11: 29) And in the Sermon on the Mount, His first blessing was to the poor in spirit and the meek (Mt 5)
The humbleness of the Holy Spirit:
17.  In His humbleness the Holy Spirit does everything for the edification of the church, secretly, known as "the Holy Sacraments". In Baptism He mysteriously gives birth to the new man, and gives forgiveness and adoption. In the Sacrament of Confirmation the Holy Spirit dwells secretly in the believer, and on the mouths of the priests He gives forgiveness of sins. The same applies to the other Church Sacraments.
18.  In His humbleness, the Holy Spirit speaks through the apostles' mouths and by the prophets without revealing Himself. Therefore the Lord Christ said to His disciples, "It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you." (Mt 10: 20) The people see the apostles speaking, while it is the Holy Spirit who works secretly.  And in the prophecy people hear the prophecy from somebody, whereas, "Prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Pet 1: 21)
19.  With the same humbleness the Holy Spirit gave power to the ministers, as the Lord Christ had promised, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me." (Acts 1: 8) The people praised the apostles and did not see the work of the Holy Spirit.
20.  In His humbleness the Holy Spirit gives gifts, and people admire and praise the gifted, while actually it is the Holy Spirit who works in secret, "One and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills." (1 Cor 12: 11)
21.  The Holy Spirit works in the church, and does the whole work secretly, yet it is the work of the church that appears. 
The church history glorifies the heroes of faith, evangelists, father monks, teachers, and the saints of repentance, while the whole work is done by the Holy Spirit in secret.  
22.  In His humbleness, the Holy Spirit is pleased to dwell in our mortal bodies, for the apostle says, "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?" (1 Cor 6: 19) "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor 3: 16) Who are we, the dust and ashes, and what are our bodies that the Holy Spirit dwells in them?! Yet, it is His humbleness!
23.  In His humbleness the Holy Spirit endures us. He long-suffers us though we grieve Him (Eph 4: 30), extinguish Him (1 Tim 5: 19), and resist Him (Acts 7: 51), and even reject His communion with our sins! May the Lord have mercy upon us, and renew His Spirit in us!