The Christmas tree is up and decorated. The nativity scene is out. The Advent wreath is about to be put away. The Christmas cards that are going out this year have been sent. Gifts are wrapped. The stockings are hung (Bailey’s and Maxine’s already have doggie treats in them). What else is needed to make this a perfect Christmas? Oh, yes … a healthy dose of humility!
In the Office of Readings for December 22nd I was struck by these words by Venerable Bede: “Those who refuse to be humble cannot be saved. They cannot say with the prophet: See, God comes to my aid; the Lord is the helper of my soul. But anyone who makes himself humble like a little child is greater in the kingdom of heaven.”
I began this season of Advent reflecting on the “sign” of the miners trapped underground in Chile and the three young men rescued from being lost at sea. I remain convinced that we are the miners and we are those who are lost. We cannot save ourselves. We stand in need of a savior.
A common reflection for Christmas is the revelation of the humility of God. God humbles himself to be born a child. God does this for us and it is indeed good news! But there is another side to the equation of humility: if God has humbled himself to come to us then we, in turn, must humble ourselves in order to receive and welcome him. If the stable is good enough for God then it is good enough for us!
We must make of our lives and our hearts a stable that is fit for the King of creation. This can only be done through humility. We must acknowledge who we indeed are and who we need. We are sinners and we stand in need of a savior. This acknowledgement does not deny our worth nor belittle the human spirit (as some “puffs of wind” in our world contend).
Humility is the path to true dignity – a dignity founded not in the illusion of pride and self but in the reality of communion with God and communion with one another. God is completely at home in the humility and poverty of the stable – it is there that we find Him and that we discover the truth of who we ourselves are.
O come, o come Emmanuel! Our world needs you. Our church needs you. I need you. And may we each make of our hearts a humble and poor stable worthy to receive and welcome you! Come Emmanuel and we shall rejoice!
A further thought: God is indeed at home in the stables of our world – the poor, humble, lowly and put-away places of our world. If you are searching for God, if you are no longer comfortable with the void that this world offers – go (with a discerning and humble heart) to the stables of the world and there you will encounter God. An important note though – you must remain faithful. Once or twice is not enough, God wants to know that your heart is sincere. If you remain faithful in visiting the poor places, God will speak to your heart.