FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE SAVIOR
Brothers and Sisters,
I’ve told you this story before and I am happy to use it again: in the play “A Man for All Seasons,” and in the movie by the same name, Saint Thomas More is approached by an acquaintance named Richard. Saint Thomas More was chancellor of England and thus in a position of immense secular power; Richard wanted Saint Thomas to introduce him to the king and recommend Richard for a lofty, important, and high-paying job. Saint Thomas More declines and encourages Richard to be a teacher instead. Richard, indignant, retorts at this suggestion and blasts Saint Thomas: “even if I were the best teacher in the whole world, who would know?!?” To-which Saint Thomas replies: “well, your students would know, the angels also, even God Himself – and that’s not a bad crowd at all.”
In that historical drama, we see that Richard, like many of us, wanted others to respect and look up to him; he wanted the esteem of others and, it seems, to feel important. I am sure all of us in humility can also admit that we would appreciate being the smart, intelligent, looked-up-to person.
Now imagine all the more how Christ could have taken such a stance. He could have demanded the best treatment, the more sumptuous food, the most expensive clothes, the finest home, and so forth. He could have demanded all these things because He is the most powerful, the most intelligent, the wisest, and the greatest human.
Christ, as you know, never simply tells us what to do but always leads by His own example. Christ was profoundly humble – so humble that it is difficult for us to imagine the breadth of His humility. In Heaven, the angels bow down to Him and yet on Earth He was disrespected, spat upon and tortured, and held in no esteem. There is untold humility being demonstrated by God Who did not send lighting from the sky to smite each one who spat upon Him or struck Him.
That, brothers and sisters, is our example to follow. He, Whom the Heavens adore, became the lowliest of human beings. Saint Luke remembers Christ encouraging us in this way of meekness as well, when he wrote: everyone who exults one’s self will be humbled but the one who humbles one’s self will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). Christ’s humility called Him to sacrifice His life for the good of all humanity; that is our example to follow. Let us all stand ready to sacrifice for the good of others, such that we are following the example of the Savior.
God be near,