“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." - Gospel of Saint Luke
YOU want to be humbled quickly? I have the solution. Go on a fast and see how easily you get to be humbled. A few days ago my wife and I went on a nine-hour novena for a special intention. Aside from the novena we also decided to go on a fast. To my wife that could be an easy thing but not for me as I like to eat.
As I write this I just had my lunch. Crackers, a banana and water. That’s it. My wife ate even less, two pieces of crackers. In normal days those crackers would just be for soup but since we are on a fast, it will do.
We ate our lunch under a tree. It is hot right now and my stomach is starting to growl again and that would have to wait because we still have a few hours more. Right now it is about 1:06. Five hours more.
The thing about fasting is that it makes you realize that you only need a few things really. You do not eat buffet lunches or unli rice. You only need to fill your stomach for the next few hours and that you would be satisfied with that. One is stripped to the bare essentials of food and existence. One does not really need a ten-course meal to satisfy the hunger. Sometimes you only need some crackers and a banana actually. And that is humbling. We do not have to really expound on that because we all know what that is. Still we think we are in control.
Perhaps it is not coincidence that the Gospel for today is all about humility. A few moments ago I met a former student. She approached me and we talked awhile and she told me that she had breast cancer. I did not know how to respond to that. Again humility. We think we are in control and suddenly something out of the blue hits us. Not necessarily sickness but it could be anything. Sometimes our pride deludes in believing that we are in control of our lives. That our wealth can buy everything and then in an instant our lives change. It is ironical that sometimes the things that we think can control our lives can become so utterly useless. Still we think we are in control. Still we have the illusion that we are masters of our lives. We are not. One moment can change our entire lives.
We have become so proud and arrogant and we think we can do and be anything. You take a look around the world and you see that arrogance in every facet of life. Wealth is the end goal. A businessman once told me, the only thing that matters in business is profit. No wonder he is rich, but what about his soul?
Power is the ultimate. No wonder people are tripping over positions and titles. They become haughty or their haughtiness is revealed. They work around like pompous creatures never thinking these things that they hold so dear can disappear in a second. And they will, it is only a matter of time.
And yet people today refuse to believe or accept that all things are temporary and that they are not in control. They scream when their phones do not work, the grovel when there is traffic, they curse when the internet is slow. ( Like me) They covet and they amass. They salivate and they take and take and take. Virtues are non-existent and vices sprout in gardens of avarice.
Perhaps we should all take a step back. Perhaps we should all go on a fast to find out how little we are and how large and consuming are our vices and faults. Perhaps the next time we are given a place of honor, we take the lowest seat of all because seats are all the same. Unless of course your pride has eaten you up.
Go on a fast. It helps.