“Where there is no humility, all things rot…holy humility receives from God the power to yield fruit, thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and a hundredfold.” John Climacus – Medieval Christian Mystic
It is pomegranate time. Our tree has a nice collection of gorgeous and not so gorgeous looking fruit. Pomegranate juice is deep ruby red in color. It is thick, almost syrupy and full of exquisite flavor: the sweetness of summer, the richness of autumn, the tartness of winter, the complexity of spring.
Juicing pomegranates requires they first be seeded. Seeding enough pomegranates for one quart of juice takes over one hour. It is a labor intensive process.
It begins with cutting off the end of the fruit, just enough to reveal some seeds. Sometimes the cut reveals that the seeds have rotted brown. It doesn’t matter if the fruit looks gorgeous red or not so perfect on the outside. The outside never fully reveals what the inside contains.
Rotting from the inside out is harder to discern. So it is with people too. The wisdom of John Climacus reveals that perhaps we can know what is rotten on the inside by what we see on the outside. Humility is a gift of the Spirit for Christians. Humility is also considered a practice essential to cultivate for those of us who claim to follow Jesus on the Way.
How does one cultivate Christian humility? Here are some suggestions.
- Listen: listen without waiting for a way to respond, without listening for how to articulate one’s view. Fully listening to another person is an act of humility.
- Refrain from belittling another person. Even if you think it, don’t give it the power of your words. Making fun of another person, no matter how “innocent” you may mean it, is a form of bullying.
- Be actively kind. Once you’ve got #2 down, it’s time to step up to the plate and practice the great commandment – love your neighbor. Being actively kind is one way to love your neighbor.
- Remember and recount YOUR gifts. Knowing our strengths as gifts puts them in their proper place as the reality of God in our lives. Your gifts are from God who trusts you enough to employ them with humility.