Sunday, November 23, 2014

Love bears your humiliations


To bear with humiliation, to suffer the diminishment of our own ego, not only in our own eyes but in the eyes of others, can be excruciating.  Perhaps nothing is more painful to suffer than self-knowledge; to acknowledge our own true poverty, our need for God, for His grace, for His mercy.  When the shock of such humiliation hits us we are stopped in our tracks.  Yet, Christ, suffering this humiliation in us, embracing it as His own, transforms it.  His love makes humiliation the wound that can heal us.  By rising after His first fall on the "Via Crucis", He gives us the strength to rise from the self-contempt that would otherwise flatten us.  His weakness becomes our strength.  We find the courage to rise again knowing that we tread the path of the world's derision and our own with His feet.

It is humiliation, wounded vanity, that makes it difficult to get up and go on after the shock of the first fall. If we have failed before others, if we have fallen openly, making ourselves objects of contempt and derision, it is still more difficult; our humiliation is more bitter because we have not only betrayed ourselves to ourselves, but we have made fools of ourselves before others. They will watch us now that they know our weakness; they will watch our “heroics” as we try to start again, and they will mock at us!

Christ, who chose to be an ordinary man on the Via Crucis, chose to feel as ordinary human beings feel. Foretelling the anguish of His Passion, it was the mockery that He spoke about first of all: “The Son of man shall be mocked and spat upon and crucified.”
Because Christ identifies Himself with us, because He suffers the humiliation of the first fall in us, His love transforms it. The very wound can heal us.

The first fall is the first real self-knowledge. Now we know our weakness, we know our helplessness before the difficulties of life, our total inability to shoulder our responsibilities. We know that we cannot get up by ourselves, we cannot shoulder the burden for the second time by ourselves, we cannot face our own self-contempt or the derision of others, by ourselves. We realize now that we are wholly dependent on Christ, dependent on Him to act in us, to lift Himself up in us and to lift us up in Him. His weakness is our strength.

In the light of this new self-knowledge, in the realization and acceptance of our utter dependence on Him, the second start, look as it may before men, is infinitely better in the eyes of God than the first. No longer do we seek to carry the burden with our own hands, but with His. No longer do we try to walk in His footsteps, we tread the way with His feet.

Excerpt From: Caryll Houselander. “Way of the Cross.”