There are humble religious, and there are proud religious. The proud ones should not promise themselves the kingdom of God. The place to which dedicated chastity leads is certainly higher, but the one who exalts himself will be humbled. Why seek the higher place with an appetite for the heights, when you can make it simply by holding on to lowliness? If you exalt yourself, God throws you down. If you cast yourself down, God lifts you up. One may not add to or subtract from the Lord’s pronouncement.1
The Scripture asserts that “everyone that exalts himself will be humbled, and he that humbles himself will be exalted.” …
If we want to attain to true humility and come quickly to the top of that heavenly ascent to which we can only mount by lowliness in this present life, we must ascend by good works. We must erect the mystical ladder of Jacob, where angels ascending and descending appeared to him. Ascent and descent mean that we go downward when we exalt ourselves and rise when we are humbled. The ladder represents our life in this world, which our Lord erects to heaven when our heart is humbled. The sides of the ladder represent our soul and body, sides between which God has placed several rungs of humility and discipline, whereby we are to ascend if we would answer his call.2
One must not suppose that he is demeaning this life. He is not saying that since there is nothing good for us here, we might as well do away with ourselves. Not at all. There can be profit even here, if we live not toward this life finally but toward that other.3
- SERMON 354.8. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 236). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- RULE OF ST. BENEDICT 7. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (pp. 236–237). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILY ON PHILIPPIANS 4.1.22. Edwards, M. J. (Ed.). (1999). Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (p. 228). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.