Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Shield of Humility

Have you ever experienced that flush of anger, of pride hurt, when facing accusation? It can be the emotion of fierce self-defense or of deep, aching sorrow if the accusation is unjust. What can I do when I face accusation, whether just or unjust? How do I resist the temptation to inflict my own justice? I want so much to be understood. Thomas a Kempis comes to my aid, helping me get my thoughts together so that I may see a bigger picture.

In "On the Passion of Christ" a Kempis writes "On Jesus before Annas the high priest."

"Lord Jesus Christ, Guide of our life and Author of our salvation, I bless and thank you for your first arraignment before the high priest Annas, where, after you had been interrogated about various things, you were harshly struck on the cheek for your humble and truthful response.

I praise and glorify you, Christ, glorious King, for enduring the insulting and disgraceful affront by the hand of a shameless servant; when the response left your lips, he directed a heavy blow to your face, saying: Do you thus answer the high priest?"

Kind Jesus, ever calm in spirit and speech, you did not hesitate to answer him with gentle words: If I have spoken evil, give testimony of that evil, but if well, why then do you strike me? O vile and wicked servant, did you not fear to strike the lovable face of your Creator with such hateful hands?

My revered Jesus, how wonderfully you manifested your inexpressible meekness on this occasion, rather than immediately avenging so heinous an insult, you deliberately and calmly corrected the one who struck you.

You, who are one of Christ's followers, reflect and ask yourself whether for the love of God you are able to endure such a slap on the cheek? You, who are unable to endure harsh criticism without yielding to anger, how can you bear such a blow in the face?

You are saddened because of the unjust treatment shown your Lord, but yours is still greater sadness because you feel yourself incapable of bearing even small injuries for the honor of Christ.

You set great goals for yourself and let your thoughts float on high; but at the first words of reproach that you hear, you become terribly disturbed and discover that you are weaker than you first thought. Therefore, go to Jesus and plead more earnestly with him for the virtue of patience.

Good Jesus, strength and power of a soul suffering tribulation, teach me to accept all criticism and reproof with a calm spirit, and let me never show resentment in defending myself because of complaints unjustly made against me. Rather, let me respond to them with gentle silence and, if I must speak, then let me answer my accusers in a pleasant and friendly tone. When I am in the presence of my enemies, put the apt and right words on my lips, and when the hand of the wicked is raised against me, kind Jesus, let a humble, calm, and constant mind be my invulnerable shield."

John 18:22-23

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice inspirational essay. Thank you. I'll share. A. Judy

debbie bailey said...

So, so hard to do. This is a lesson I'm in the midst of trying to learn with my brother and sister-in-law. God keeps bringing writings like these to me, so I thank you for being an instrument of His peace.

Mike Tant said...

I'm just catching up on my blog reading. I love this post. "Imitation of Christ" is one of my favorite books. I try to read it at lease every other year. And, yes, what he says about humility is so true, especially when we feel the need to defend ourselves. I took up this subject in a blog post I wrote this morning. I'm on the beach and this is the first time in months I've had the time.