The virtue of humility is often misunderstood, considered as belittling one’s worth in recognition of God’s greatness and our sinfulness. Humility does involve denial of self and acknowledgement of our lowliness, but it also means realizing the depth of God’s love for us. Sincere humility is recognizing the reality of who we are, both flawed sinners and beloved children of God. We are in need of his mercy and worthy of His love.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the ideal model of humility for us. In her yes to God — “May it be done to me according to your word” — she surrendered her life to His will and accepted the great responsibility of bringing His son into the world (Luke 1:38, NASB). She knew she didn’t do anything to earn the graces God gave her, but also knew that God gave them freely for her to fulfill His mission for her life, his Son, and the world.
Unlike Mary, we aren’t free from original sin, yet we can learn from the way she lived with true humility and apply the insights to our own lives.
In our prayers and daily lives, we should seek out moments to listen for God’s direction. What does he want us to do? How can we better serve him and others? How can we say yes to him every day and in every moment? A constant attitude of openness to God will prime our hearts and minds to receive his guidance. Make time for silence to rest in his presence. When you become aware of his will or hear his voice, respond with a sincere yes. Mary’s entire life was a yes to God, accepting his call to bring his Son into the world despite any anticipation of controversy or challenges it would cause her.
God’s way is the right way. Yet that’s not always easy to accept. It’s natural for us to try to control everything in our lives. When things don’t go our way, it can be frustrating and disappointing. Yet if we trust in God’s plan, we can rest in the knowledge that all will be well, even if it doesn’t seem so at the time. Any burdens or struggles we encounter are all part of a larger plan leading to our salvation. Mary knew this. She likely didn’t expect her life to take the direction that it did, but although she was faced with many unknowns and questions, she accepted his plan with humility and strength.
Rather than dwelling in our unworthiness, we should praise God for all the gifts and graces he bestows on us, no matter how undeserving we might feel. On the other hand, we should avoid the egoism of thinking that we are the source of the goodness in our lives. The earthly successes that come our way are not our own doing. Through God, all things are possible. Without him, we are lost. God may do great things through us, but the strength and grace to do them does not come from us.
Similarly, everything we do should be for God’s glory — not our own. We distance ourselves from God when our main motivation is self-promotion or personal advancement. We are called to employ all our talents and skills for God and the salvation of the world. Recognizing this responsibility to honor God, we can offer up every achievement, success, and positive experience or interaction to him. We are merely vessels for God, which Mary epitomizes perfectly.
As we aim to live with greater humility, let us pray
to Mary for her intercession in the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta:
“Mary, give me your Heart: so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate; your
Heart so full of love and humility that I may be able to receive Jesus in the
Bread of Life and love Him as you love Him and serve Him in the distressing
guise of the poor.”
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I enjoyed reading every word, especially the paragraph “Listen for God, and Answer Him.”
Unfortunately, I’m unable to attend your wonderful meetings.