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Humiliating Humility

Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.

We’ve all seen examples of those who’ve been humbled for one reason or another. “How the mighty have fallen!” Sometimes in our not-so-great moments, we may find someone’s fall from grace a bit indulgent. Nevertheless, circumstances in life happen and, for the events that aren’t so pleasant – whether they’re our fault or not – they can be a source of humility.

We’ve also seen individuals who seem to be oblivious to those events that can be humbling. They’re infuriating, aren’t they? I think that it’s important to recognize the ‘humiliating’ moments in life not as something that destroys us, but as an event or a circumstances that draws our attention toward God. Humiliating moments for all of us are an opportunity to take Saint Paul’s words to heart: “He must increase, I must decrease”.

Humility, like most of our words, has its roots in Latin. ‘Humus’, or ‘dirt’ is the Latin root of humility and, historically, to be humble meant to have one’s feet planted firmly on the ground. Put another way, to be humble, means to be rooted in reality.

And being rooted in reality means that we recognize our own imperfections. Sometimes we’re acutely aware of that and sometimes a situation or circumstance will come our way and forcefully remind us of that. Either way, for the Christian, these moments bring an occasion to re-root our feet in the rich ‘humus’ of our relationship with Christ, which redirects our focus away from any arrogance that we may have and refocuses us on God. And these moments are always an occasion to rediscover God’s profound and transformative love for us. And these moments deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ. And that brings us authenticity and peace. Humility transforms, whether we’re looking for it or not.


God of might, giver of every good gift, put into our hearts the love of your name, so that, by deepening our sense of reverence, and, by your watchful care, keep safe what you have nurtured.

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