08 March 2011

My favorite teacher

Pope Benedict is such a great teacher. Yesterday, he was teaching his seminarians -- the seminarians of the Diocese of Rome. One of his points offered for the formation of his future priest is formation in humility. Let's listen to him:

"Humility": the Greek word is "tapeinophrosyne," the same word that St. Paul uses in the Letter to the Philippians when he speaks of the Lord, who was God and humbled himself, made himself "tapeinos," and descended to the point of making himself a creature, to the point of making himself man, to the point of obedience on the cross (cf. Philippians 2:7-8). So, humility is not just any word, just any modesty, but a Christological word. Imitating the God who comes down to me, who is so great that he becomes my friend, suffers for me, and dies for me. This is a humility to learn, the humility of God. It means that we must always see ourselves in the light of God; thus, at the same time we can know the greatness of being a person loved by God, but also our littleness, our poverty, and this is the right way to conduct ourselves, not as masters, but as servants. As St. Paul says: "We do not intend to be the masters of your faith; we are instead helpers of your joy" (2 Corinthians 1:24). Being a priest implies this humility, more so than being a Christian does.

How I would hope to be a "helper of your joy"!

(The expression "humility of God" reminds me of a chapter by that name in Romano Guardini's The Lord, a series of meditations on the Gospel. Flannery O'Connor loved it.)

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