The Narrow Road : Path of Humility.
Last Sunday we have pointed out that the spiritual journey with Jesus had reached a junction. Jesus advices the followers to take the narrow road. The rules of this narrow road are different. They are different from the usual "I thought" of the broad road. There is a subversive element underlines in the attitude and approach of the narrow road. We need to see this narrow road from the overall subversive shades of the gospel message. The narrow road is in the background of Jesus' approach. He says, "you have heard, but I say to you". This is the underlining principle of the narrow road. ''You have heard" is the broad road through which majority travel through. For example, the people who travels through broad road act upon the principle of 'eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth'. Jesus says, "but I say, love your enemies. It is interesting to note that the salient feature of the narrow road, that the narrow road gives you more breadth than the broad road.
Path of Humility
The first thing we encounter through the narrow road is the path of humility. This is one of the guiding principles in the life of a follower of Jesus.
"all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."(Lk 14:11).
Path of humility is part of the world of the Bible. In fact this parable which occurs only in the Gospel of Luke has a parallel saying in the book of Proverb.
"Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence or stand in the place of the great; for it is better to be told,"Come up here,"than to be put lower in the presence of a noble(Prov 25:6 7).
We can find a lot more similar expressions in the biblical tradition;
The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility goes before honor (Prov 15: 33)
Before destruction one's heart is haughty, but humility goes before honor (Prov 18: 12)
A person's pride will bring humiliation, but one who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor (Prov 29: 23).
But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4: 6)
This man, I tell you, went home again justified; the other did not. For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.' (Lk 18: 14).
Humility: a kingdom attitude.
Path of Humility is in tune with the kingdom teaching, like, the mustard seed, the little leaven, etc. Those teaching point to humble beginning which gradually taking greater roles. It is also the general understanding of the biblical teaching that God uses the weak to display his power (cf. 1 Cor 1: 25).
Path of Humility: A kingdom strategy
There are different strategy proposed to achieve higher goals. The 'killer instinct' is the attitude most of the players like to have to get through the tough pressure of the sports and win. The "can" attitude, can take you through the tougher currents of growth and transitions. They are the catch words of the broad road. Humility is not perceived or understood as a catch word of the broad road but it is looked down upon as the attitude of the defeated, the attitude of the lower class, those who take orders. Those are the "I thought" of the world.
Humility is a kingdom strategy because God wants us to take the narrow road so that we shall achieve victory not defeat. In order to understand the kingdom principles and attitudes we need to keep their ultimate aim. The follower of Christ is a servant of all. The aim is to become 'first of all' (cf. "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all" (Mk 9: 35). God wants us to have victory.
The parable of the invited guests and their behavior points out this strategy. The aim is to save the follower from the public humiliation to make him/her 'being first of all'. If we overlook the kingdom strategy for the divine plan of victorious life, the words like 'humility' and 'last of all' will take meaning from the world of the survival of the fittest. Naturally those attitudes will be looked down because in the world 'being first of all' is through power and competition.
Path of Humility as a pillar of the kingdom living
Humility is one of the pillars of the good religious life (does not mean clergy and religious. It denotes to any one who is willing to enter to the narrow road to be the 'first of all', to live a victorious life through the principles of the kingdom).
There are four pillars for a victorious life. ( There can be several pillars if you like to build a real huge structure. Myself as a parish priest, living a simple life in the midst of the people has found these four pillars very useful and easy to build up and it is very much based on the word of God.) These pillars are based on 1 pet 5: 6-10.
Verse six says, humble yourselves at the mighty hand of the God that he may exalt you at due time. The other three pillars (2. trust (cf. v 7); 3. discipline (cf. v. 8); 4. Perseverance (cf. v. 9). Humility is not acting like a stupid but a nature emerging from the deep faith that God will exalt his devotee in his time.
The word of God also has four pillars.
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness"(2 Tim 3: 16).
The first pillar of the word of God is teaching. From our perspective this would mean learning. Only a humble person is open to learning. That is to say, humility is openness to new teaching. Teaching that will take him/her to be the first. The proud hearted never learns. As a result he/she never grows.
God's work in our lives also has four pillars. 1 Pet 5:10 says,
And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.
The humble will be restored by God himself. This restoration is to honour and dignity of the children of God (cf. Mt 5: 5).
- Humility is the disposition to listen.
- Humility is the awareness that we are in the process of Growth.
- Humility helps us to be open to other possibilities hither to unknown.
- Humility makes us to accept our imperfection, mistakes.
- Humility helps us to let go and proceed in the way of truth.
The Narrow road : Path of Renunciation
"So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions" (Lk 14: 33).