The run up to Pentecost continues. We can't do anything to 'make Pentecost happen' but we are called to prepare the way for him. How do we do that exactly? We do that by emptying ourselves of 'our self'. In this week's 'Sober Intoxication' installation we'll be looking at the first Pentecost as an example of how we can prepare ourselves - the Annunciation. The moment the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary.
Let's take a moment to think about this event. You're Mary. You have everything sorted. Your life is looking pretty great right now - you're set to marry a great guy, you're a good person and you're God's servant, ready to give up anything for Him. Then, all of a sudden, your faith is tested in a pretty HUGE way. Suddenly, God's angel is there in front you and he's presenting you with the strangest possibility. You know that saying yes means losing the so called perfect life you had planned out, it could destroy everything. So in light of all this, what does Mary, a young teenager do? She says, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
I mean. Seriously. That's humility.
Humility is not about feeling, it is about action.
She submitted herself to God completely and received new life within her in return - the life that is eternal. So what about us? Are we really living this life-giving humility? What is God calling us to let go of - our safety, reputation, comfort?
Not only do we see Mary's humility here but we also see God's humility. Humility is an abasement - it is “the readiness to abase oneself, to lower oneself and to serve the brothers and sisters; it is having a will to serve. This is all done out of love, not out of any other motives.” That's a pretty tough one, especially in a world that is constantly asking us, 'What is in it for you?'
We can also look at Jesus as an example of humility. Today, we'll pick on 3 moments.
1. Descending from heaven
Let's face it, the entire store of salvation is pretty much a story of humility. Philippians 2 : 5 - 8 tells us this:
“Have this in mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
All powerful God chose to abase himself by entering our broken humanity. How many times have we not wanted to give someone any of our time? Have we thought we were 'descending' in order to help someone out? Real talk - when we do that we are treating those people as we deserve to be treated. The only person to descend in order to save someone else was Jesus. On the flip side, killing ourselves to save others ain't the best option either. When we do that we are placing ourselves above Jesus, and displacing the source of our life again.
So, who are we holding above Jesus?
2. Kneeling down to wash our feet
Humility means giving the power back to God. We can only truly live in His image when we wear his humility. This might mean looking past the flashy, important places, the 'big places' where things seem to be happening and moving towards the 'lowest places'. The biggest act of humility can be found in the simplicity of washing someone's feet. St. Teresa of Avila put it nicely - my vocation is love and love is humility.
Humility is life giving. It is the definition of the verse “for those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11). It means giving it all no matter how much it seems like the end.
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
4. Descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles
Jesus trusted everything into the hands of sinners. Sometimes we go about our lives thinking "today I need rest. I need this, I need that and I simply don't have time for God. Not today". We make little excuses that help us comfort ourselves for not giving God the time he deserves. We think of humility as something inactive. This is not the actual case. Humility is the opposite of that. It is risk taking, giving it all, living life on the edge.
He died to himself for us.
Will we die to ourselves for Him?
My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 2 But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.