Contemplating Jesus

LIVING WITH HUMILIATION

Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

Giotto: detail of Risen Christ

French priest Vincent de Paul (l581-1660) who founded a society to care for the poor, summarized Jesus’ life as one of “perpetual humiliation.”   

Considering what humiliation means – shame, indignity, dishonour, degradation and being discredited – humiliation certainly accompanied him throughout his public ministry and death.   Even Jesus’ birth was humiliating, in a cold stable with animals, because no place of human comfort was available to him. 

Jesus’ character, his purpose, his message and his ways however never wavered. He chose truth over honour, the healing of others over his own needs, non-violence in the face of violence.  He shook off the dust from his feet and moved on when not welcomed.  He chose the lowest place to greet those usually ignored, forsaken or simply not accepted.  

His powers were used to heal the sick and suffering, acts of mercy denied those who were profligate or in positions of political, social and religious power.    He warned of hypocrisy as an evil, of the desires for self-preservation and self-aggrandizement as foolish, and he taught that God was in control of our lives.

He combatted humiliation by showing how much more can be overcome by loving.  He allowed himself to be kissed in betrayal and refused retribution for violence by receiving insults, scourging, mockery and murder.

And for all that he gave he was crowned, at the end, with thorns in his head, a stab in his heart, naked, exposed, and physically unrecognizable.

With humiliation as a constant companion, Jesus’ life was culminated by its perfection.   Only when it had filled him and surrounded him did the earth quake and the sun turn dark.  Only when he breathed his last did the accomplishment of such pain become the hope and light of the world

My strength is founded here, in Him alone my surety, 

My integrity’s proof, in His likeness my purity.    (Teresa of Avila)

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