Christ warned us about what to expect in life if we are to take our Christianity seriously. “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name,” he said. (Lk 21,12)
But not to worry, because Christ will take care of everything. “Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,” he said, “for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute…By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (Lk 21,13-14.19)
Let’s remember that we can only manage to persevere in the trials and challenges of our earthly life when we are always with Christ. We have to be wary of our tendency to rely solely on our human resources, especially when we happen to be quite gifted in that department, because such attitude cannot go the distance. Sooner or later, we would give up.
In this regard, we have to be very careful with the most subtle trick of the devil who can lead us to think that we would just be ok by relying on our own powers only, especially if so far we have been quite successful in dealing with our human drama.
While it’s true that we have to make full use of our human powers, we should never forget that such powers come from God and can be used properly only with God as the motive and the purpose. Otherwise, they can provide us with a sweet poison whose harm to us may only be observed when things would already be too late to resolve.
We definitely need to be humble to realize this basic truth about ourselves and our capacity to persevere in our Christian life. It’s only when we are humble that we can become ‘capax Dei,’ an expression coined by St. Augustine that means that we are capable of becoming like God or that we are capable for God.
Humility is the virtue that makes us acknowledge that we are nothing without God. It sort of opens our soul for the grace of God to enter. And it is this grace that transforms us, irrespective of our human impotencies, mistakes and errors, into becoming children of God, capable of speaking in the Spirit and of persevering despite whatever tests we can encounter in life.
It is humility that would enable us to be like Christ, to be ‘alter Christus,’ who is the pattern of our humanity and the redeemer of our damaged humanity. It is when we are humble that we can manage to bear and to suffer all things, and to love even our enemies, offering forgiveness to our offenders, just like what Christ did and continues to do. With it we can handle whatever challenges, trials and persecutions we may face in life.
Pride, the opposite of humility, is what blocks God’s grace from entering into our soul. It restricts us to our own powers alone, which in the first place are given by God but which we consider simply to be our own. It gives us a false light, quite convincing in its effect on us, but is really deceptive. It cannot go the distance insofar as the demands and requirements of our authentic human dignity are concerned.*