It’s been said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. In today’s reading, Bernard of Clairvaux, a French monk from the 12th century, offers a slightly different perspective for you to consider. Perhaps the Advent shows us that a humble heart is simply a heart that hungers more for the things of heaven more than the stuff of earth.
- Luke 1: 34-38
- Watch for the Light, pp. 38-43
- Almost 1000 years ago, Bernard noticed some “who, after having enrolled themselves in the army of Christ, entangle themselves anew in the affairs of the world, and plunge again into worldly things…” (40). Why do you think we often continue to struggle with the desire for worldly gain, comfort, and recognition, even after we have turned to Christ in faith and set our hearts on heaven?
- Is it possible to be a truly humble Christian without being deeply committed to personal prayer? How have you seen seasons of renewed commitment to prayer change you or other believers close to you?
- Re-read Mary’s humble reply in Luke 1:38, “let it be to me according to your word.” Have you ever prayed such a simple, open-ended request to the Lord? How would your prayers begin to change if you took Mary’s request as a model for your own prayers this Advent season?
Today, let the words of Bernard’s last two paragraphs become your own prayer of humble faith:
“Let the Word, I pray, be to me, not as a word spoken only to pass away, but conceived and clothed in flesh, not in air, that he may remain with us. Let him be, not only to be heard with the ears, but to be seen with the eyes, touched with the hands and borne on the shoulders. Let the Word be to me, not as a word written and silent, but incarnate and living. . . . Let it thus be to me, as was never done to anyone before me, nor after me shall be done.
I desire that he may be formed, not as the word in preaching, not as a sign in figures, or as a vision in dreams, but silently inspired, personally incarnated, found in the body, in my body. Let the Word therefore deign to do in me and for me what he needed not to do, and could not do, for himself, according to your word. Yes, let it be done for the sake of the whole world, but specially let it be done unto me, according to your word.”