We reflect on the nature of what it means to be a Christian, saying that an authentic follower of Christ is able to endure difficulties with a positive attitude, i cannot stress enough the importance and need of sacrifice in the life of faith of all Christian’s.
As we reflect on the Gospel reading from St. Matthew where Jesus asks his disciples who they think He is.
Matthew 16:13-20 (DRA 1899)
And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.
It was after this question that Peter replies with his declaration that Jesus is the Christ, but that once Jesus warns of his upcoming passion and death, “Peter was frightened and scandalised.”
This attitude, is “just like many Christians” who declare that “this will never happen to you, I will follow you only up to this point.” “This is a temptation to our spiritual wellbeing.” To us, being humiliated is what breaks the illusion of perfection that we all want for ourselves.
Just like the rich young man from the gospel, who wanted to follow Jesus but only up to a certain point, the scandal of the Cross continues to block many Christians who complain about the wrongdoings and insults they suffer, rather than following the way of the cross.
“The proof of a true Christian is in their ability to endure humiliations with joy and patience.”
It is nevertheless our own choice “whether to be a Christian in name only or a Christian close to Jesus, who walks with him along the path of the cross”.
“We learn humility through accepting humiliations cheerfully.” ― Mother Teresa
“Many of those who are humiliated are not humble. Some react to humiliation with anger, others with patience, and others with freedom. The first are culpable, the next harmless, the last just.” ― Bernard of Clairvaux, On the Song of Songs 1
“Humiliation is the only ladder to honouring God’s Kingdom.” ― Andrew Murray
John Justus of Landsberg or Lanspergius (+ August 10, 1539) in his Enchiridion militiae
christianae tells us “therefore, you must say: “I have come here to be rebuked, despised, separated from one place to another; to serve all, to submit myself to all, not to contradict anyone, to be the last and the most despicable of slaves in the service of princes. Whenever I find that, a thought or deed, are contrary to my ordinal purpose, I will not permit it, but, acting as though I had apostatised, I will return to my original purpose.”
A ragged slave, vile and poor, among nobles, is despised, mocked and beaten, but does not open his mouth; In fact, he is glad he has not been totally excluded. So must you also, when you are among brothers or in the company of men, whenever you feel the object of an offence, say the following to yourself: “I will willingly keep silent and endure, so that I deserve to be supported and not be excluded from all the company of my masters ». And also: “How good I am, how happy I am: the brothers support my being a disgusting leper and a beggar.
Propose within your heart to live as a guest and foreigner among your brothers, without any rights over any property of the house, so that, without confusion, you can serenely contemplate the losses and the profits, the joys and the sorrows.
Be humiliate as much as you can. As much as you have humiliated yourself, you are still superb. Therefore, embrace all licit modes of humiliation so that, in the end, humility itself becomes a natural inclination. – [Lanspergius: Enchiridion militiae christianae.]
A free pdf. copy here of An epistle of Jesus Christ to the faithful soul by Lanspergius originally entitled “Alloquia Jesu Christi ad animam fidelem“, which has been translated into English by St. Philip Howard (+ 19 October 1595), The Earl of Arundel, one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.