Monday, February 14, 2011

Why Does Humility Lead Us to Righteousness?




This last 
Sunday's Gospel lesson, the story of the Pharisee and the Publican, emphasized humility as a key attitude for repentance. To repent we must not boast of our spiritual feats, but humble ourselves like the Publican who longs for a change of mind. We are called to learn this secret of the inward poverty of the Publican rather than the self-righteousness of the Pharisee who is convinced of his perfectness and not open to change because of his pride. 


Saint Gregory Palamas answers the question, Why does Humility lead us to righteousness?
Why does humility lead up to the heights of righteousness, whereas self-conceit leads down to the depths of sin? Because anybody who thinks he is something great, even before God, is rightly abandoned by God, as one who thinks that he does not need His help. Anybody who despises himself, on the other hand, relies on mercy from above, wins God's sympathy, help and grace. As it says, “The Lord resists the proud: but he gives grace to the lowly” (Proverbs 3:34 Lxx).
When we compare ourselves to the calling of God, being made in His image, we can be no other than humble. Unless we think this way, why do we need God's help?  We will remain stuck in our own ego-centeredness, condemned to the heights of our own making. Our end when it comes will also be of our own making.  We will die with only our own thoughts to comfort us.  Humility is the key to knowing and becoming united with God so we can live in His grace. All we need is a little bit of humility and God will widen our perspective little by little until we find His full glory. As we prepare for this Lenten period, let us all seek to find one new limitation we have that keeps us from a full union with our God.


Reference: Saint Gregory Palamas: The Homilies, pp 6-7

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