Humiliation vs. humility: The wisdom we can learn from Jesus
A Reflection for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Find today’s readings here.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (Jn 13:20)
Can a humble person be humiliated?
My high school memories are replete with humiliations. Unsuccessful first kiss attempts, untimely voice cracks, neglected morning deodorant application on a hot day, hairstyle fails, etc. You get the picture.
I was confirmed in high school, and I got really into Jesus. I started going to Mass daily, joined a charismatic prayer group and attended Bible studies. I sort of went nuts. But in college I struggled with pride and arrogance—and I definitely still felt humiliation.
Was Jesus ever humiliated?
By serving others, we begin to recognize Jesus’ divine nature and become more like the person God created us to be.
We’re still in the Easter season, but the Gospel today looks back to the Last Supper. Pastors around the world ceremoniously washed others’ feet on Holy Thursday. These humble gestures, just like Jesus’ actions that night, are meant to inspire the service of others.
At the time of Christ, washing the feet of others was a duty delegated to servants. But Jesus humbled himself in this way the day before his public execution. Jesus stood trial, was spat on, mocked and ridiculed. Naked, he was nailed to a cross. Yet somehow, whenever I contemplate Jesus on the cross, I never think of it as a humiliation.
That’s in part because of Jesus’ humility I think. I believe Jesus knew who he was, but in high school and college, I was still searching. One way we can find ourselves and grow in humility is through service. By serving others, we begin to recognize Jesus’ divine nature and become more like the person God created us to be.