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The Lowest Place

The Lowest Place

Presence of God— O Jesus, You who said, “The Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister” (Mt 20:28), teach me to love the lowest place.

MEDITATION

Jesus has proved to us not only in words, but also by example, that He came not to be ministered unto but to minister. This example He gave on the eve of His Passion, as if to leave it to us as a testament, together with His last and most precious instructions. Before instituting the Holy Eucharist, Jesus like a common slave, “began to wash the feet of the disciples,” and when He had finished, said: “I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also,” for “the servant is not greater than his lord; neither is the apostle greater than He that sent him” (Jn 13,15.16). The instruction is clear: to be true disciples of Jesus, we must humble ourselves as He did. Note that here it is not only a question of humbling ourselves before God, but also before our neighbor. To consider ourselves servants in our relations with God is not difficult, but to do so in dealing with others will call for real effort. It is harder still to let ourselves be treated like servants without any attention or consideration, and even by those who are our inferiors. Yet Jesus, infinitely superior to all, willed to be treated not only as a servant, but as a slave and even as a malefactor.

Just as humility makes us recognize our place of inferiority and absolute dependence before God, so too does it assign us to the “lowest place” in relation to our neighbor. “Woe to you, because you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues” (Lk 11:43), said Jesus to the Pharisees, condemning their desire for the first places, for honorable duties and positions, and He added, “When thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place” (Lk 14:10). As far as we are able, wherever we are, we must seek the last place doing so with such simplicity and naturalness that no one who notices us will come and invite us to go up to the first place. We must expect that invitation only from God, and not in this life but in the next.

COLLOQUY

“O Lord, when You were a pilgrim here below, You said, ‘Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ My soul finds its rest in seeing You, the powerful Monarch of the Heavens, clothed in the form and nature of a slave, humbling Yourself to wash the feet of Your Apostles. Then I recall the words You spoke to teach me how to practice humility: ‘I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also…. The servant is not greater than his lord…. If you know these things, you shall be blessed if you do them’ (Jn 13:15-17). With the help of Your grace, O Lord, I understand these words which came from Your gentle, humble heart; and with the help of Your grace I wish to put them into practice. “I want to abase myself humbly and submit my will to others, not contradicting them nor asking if they have the right to give me orders. No one had this right over You and yet You were obedient, not only to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph but even to Your executioners.

“O Lord, You could not humble Yourself any more in order to teach me humility. That is why I want to respond to Your love by putting myself in the lowest place and by sharing Your humiliations, so as to be able to share the kingdom of heaven with You hereafter. I beg You, divine Jesus, send me a humiliation every time I try to put myself above others. But Lord, You know my weakness; every morning I make a resolution to practice humility, and every evening I acknowledge that I still have many failures. I am tempted to be discouraged by this, but I know that discouragement also has its source in pride. That is why I prefer to put my trust in You alone, O my God. Since You are all-powerful, deign to create in my soul the virtue for which I long” (St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus).

 

Note from Dan: These posts are provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art: Photography of St. Thérèse, Gravure de “Sainte Thérèse de l'Enfant Jésus, Histoire d'une âme écrite par elle-même, Lisieux, Office central de Lisieux (Calvados), & Bar-le-Duc, Imprimerie Saint-Paul, 1937, édition 1940.” PD-US, copyright expired, Wikimedia Commons; Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • patricia

    Humility is always in truth ( diary of Sr. Faustina ) these were the words of Jesus to her. Being a servant to others as Jesus did gives us many opportunities to practice humility. Approaching the sacraments more than just once a month is another way and you receive so much grace. Going to confession and working on ones sins is a great way to be more docile and submit to the Holy Spirit. It also opens up insight in how to better and love your neighbor even in the lowest place. Thanks for sharing!

  • Camila

    This is so true:

    To consider ourselves servants in our relations with God is not difficult, but to do so in dealing with others will call for real effort.

    Providentially I have been struggling with precisely this problem… discouragement… yet

    I know that discouragement also has its source in pride.

    This reminds me of what St. Bernard taught his monks:

    “I reflect on the way; that is humility. I desire the reward, which is truth. But what if the way is so difficult that I cannot reach the desired reward?” He (Jesus) replies, “I am the life,” that is, food for the journey.

    Isn’t it simply AWESOME that our God is not simply the way and the truth, but becomes Real Food and Real Drink that we, weaklings that we are, may nourish upon Him?

  • Diana Marie Winkler

    Oh how we can make such work at trying to be holy!!! Surrender to the Lord and sit at His feet to learn from Him. He will show us the way of His love to share with others.Listen to His voice and to feel the “nudge” from Him to reach out to our fellow man. Lay low and He will raise us up!

  • Estefania

    What a wonderful excerpt from St. Thérèse. Discouragement also has a source in pride is very true and very useful to keep in mind… God bless!

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