I thought this article was a good way to try understanding humility a little better.
March 5, 2008
The kind Father was planning to take each of His three small children on a long walk to find a very precious gift. The names of the children were Pride, Despair and Humility.
The Father began by taking the hand of Pride. Pride was well aware that he was the strongest, the fastest and the smartest of all the Father's children. After a while, Pride decided that his Father was going the wrong way, and he felt that his Father was not going fast enough. So Pride broke free from his father's grasp and ran ahead of Him. Temporarily stopping, Pride suddenly found himself lost. But Pride thought so much of himself and his abilities to find the right way that he pressed ahead and did not bother even to look for his Father or ask for his help. The cold rains fell and then strong winds came. Pride kept running. Had he turned to look, Pride would have seen his Father following his every step, ready to offer Pride not just shelter and warmth from the cold driving rain, but the strong and steady hand he needed to show him the way.
Next the Father took the hand of His child Despair. At first Despair held his father's hand and walked with Him. Then he grew weary and tired. He could have asked for his Father to carry him, as the Father was strong. Instead, he plopped himself down in a heap and threw a tantrum. He shouted: "We'll never find the precious gift!" As the loving and caring Father gently bent down and tried to lift up Despair, Despair wriggled free. Then Despair ran away. The cold rains came with the harsh winds and Despair huddled in a corner all alone. He shut his eyes so tight that he could not see the Father Who was standing in the rain Himself offering outstretched arms of love, protection and comfort.
Finally the Father took the hand of Humility. Humility was the sickest and frailest of the Father's children. Humility trustingly nestled his tiny hand into the strong one of his Father. Humility, though weak, felt safe when he was walking with his Father. The rains came and they were heavy and the winds were so strong they could have blown the tiny body of Humility away. But Humility clung to His father who wrapped His own coat around him for protection. When the way became too long and he became too weary, Humility looked up toward his Father and let his Father lift him up upon His strong and steady shoulders. And when he grew tired, he climbed upon his Father's lap, and there he slept soundly. The rain and wind did not last forever. Soon the sun returned.
Humility enjoyed the Father's company and the journey. They spent long hours talking and walking. After a while, and at an hour he did not expect, as they were rounding a corner, Humility was suddenly stunned by a peace and brilliance of light he had never before known. Then He saw the most magnificent mansion he'd ever laid eyes upon. It shone with beauty and gold. He realized he was in a new land, where joy filled each soul, and suffering had ceased. Humility also felt changed within himself. Looking at his arms, he noticed that they were no longer frail but had now become strong. The Father looked lovingly at Humility. Then He spoke: "Behold, my child, your precious gift. Come stay here with me forever."
We act like prideful children when we run ahead of God. When we run ahead of God we are telling ourselves that we know what is best, and we are telling God that we think we are smarter than He is. The truth is that when our prideful minds think we can run ahead of God and do anything without Him and His grace, we are setting ourselves up for disaster. As Proverbs 16:18 warns us "Pride goes before disaster and a haughty spirit before a fall."
We act like despairing children when we run away from God, and His ability to save us. God has given us every reason to hope. But when we run away from God's goodness, His justice and His mercy we are choosing to ignore the hope for which He died to give to all of us. The Catechism (2091) tells us that "By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God...Despair is contrary to God's goodness, to His justice...and to His mercy."
Only as trusting and humble children can we walk with God. In order to walk with God, we need to talk with God. We can only talk with God when we approach him in humility. As the Catechism (2559) tells us: "Humility is the foundation of prayer."
Pride says "look how great I am," and then runs ahead of God.
Despair says "look how awful I am," and then runs away from God.
Humility says "look at the greatness of my Father," and then walks with God.
Sometimes I need to ask myself, which child of God am I?
© Copyright 2008 Catholic Exchange
Mary Anne Moresco writes from Monmouth County, New Jersey.