We are in the Christian season of Lent, a forty-day time of reflection, listening, learning and repenting. In this tradition, the Lenten season is time for spiritual discipline. Especially in these trying days, Lent can be a time for cultivating the spiritual discipline of humility.
Listed as the third “blessed” in the “Beatitudes” of Matthew 5, Jesus makes clear the value of this idea of meekness, or humility: it is foundational to being a disciple. He spoke consistently about humility, extoling its virtues while modeling its essence. Jesus also roundly and consistently condemned another h-word that sounds like the word humility, but is the opposite: humiliation.
While Jesus lived out humility, he spent a good bit of his time and ministry attempting to reverse humiliation and the humiliating circumstances so many in his day found themselves caught in. Too often the Scribes and Pharisees looked down upon those they considered “the other.” Typically called “sinners and tax collectors” (Luke 15:1-2), but also women and shepherds, the poor and the sick, the alien and crippled …
Many religious authorities looked down on the very ones Jesus lifted up, humiliated the very ones Jesus called “light of the world,” and alienated those Jesus welcomed. Humiliation has often been part of the oppressor’s strategy for belittling their victims. To humiliate is to demonstrate control and power, while simultaneously breaking down the psyche of the oppressed. During this Lenten season, we also should remember the soldiers who mocked and belittled Jesus. They attempted to humiliate. That was the main reason for crucifixion.
But Jesus, with silence, dignity, and courageous humility remained true to his cause and firm in his resolve. His example has inspired a whole host of others over the centuries, brave men and women marching before us believing with Jesus that the meek are blessed, the humble are strong, and living with humility is vital to God’s hope for our world and peaceful co-existence.
During this sacred season of Lent that leads us to Easter, discover the power of a humble spirit —kindness, gentleness, tenderness, and the honest recognition that Christ is present, alive and well in our brothers and sisters, just as Christ is alive in us. As we move through our days, let us remember the ways of Jesus and his words about who is blessed. It is not the brash, insistent, authoritative and cruel. Rather, blessed are the meek.
Take time today to be thankful – for those who have gone before – and for those whose journeys we share in the present.