This is what Christ clearly encourages us to do. He taught about it and lived it himself. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor,” he said. “Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place...” (Lk 14,8ff)
There's divine wisdom in these words. Actuations contrary to this indication can only bring us trouble. They can corrupt, spoil and even destroy us. We have to do our best to learn how to pass unnoticed while doing a lot of good by humbling ourselves.
Such self-effacement is akin to the self-emptying of Christ who is the epitome for our behaviour. He would always tell the beneficiaries of his miracles not to broadcast what he did. Rather he would instruct them to simply go to the priest and report what happened.
When, out of extreme gratitude, these beneficiaries offered to join him in his journeys, he would tell them to go back home instead. When the hungry people, who were fed to satiety with just a few loaves and fish, wanted to make him king, Christ quickly withdrew to a mountain.
Even after his resurrection, when he was supposed to be in a glorious state, those to whom he showed himself did not recognize him at first. He appeared like anybody else. He obviously did not like to impress and overwhelm people just for the sake of impressing and overwhelming them.
There are also many practical advantages when we follow Christ in humbling ourselves. We cannot learn anything unless we are humble. Our prayer cannot prosper, cannot touch base with God, with the Spirit, when it is not done in humility. We cannot exercise political power properly, nor enjoy the true benefits of whatever fame and wealth we may have, if these are not lived in humility.
Imagine God becoming man, the King and Creator of the Universe humbling himself to the depth of the human condition, and reduced to a helpless infant lying on a manger, of all places, and wrapped in swaddling clothes! He lowers himself to raise us up.
He who comes to save us is telling us as clearly as possible how we ought to be to share his dignity, and to merit the fruit of his redemptive work. It's in being simple and humble, in truly living the poverty of spirit that will always make us look for God and never be satisfied with any human and earthly good. It enables us to love.
This is the law that should govern our life, and everything in it—our thoughts, desires, words and deeds. This is the secret that should be announced to the whole world, the key to our happiness that should be replicated endlessly and made available to all.
St. Paul a number of times warned us about being wise in our own conceits. This is what conceit does—it tricks and deceives us, making us think that we can be wiser than God by simply using our reason and ignoring, if not dumping our faith.
It leads us to be haughty and arrogant, always thinking that we are better than others or that they always owe us something.
It leads us to despise others, to lord it over them, to mistreat them, considering them simply as tools and occasions for our selfish ends.
It leads us to be wily, but actually brings us to the grip of envy, jealousy, over-sensitiveness, anger and hatred. It inflates us with a feeling of superiority that cannot bear comparison with others. It concocts a fantasy world of self-sufficiency for ourselves, a painfully comical situation that we can fall into.
It teaches us the art and skills of hypocrisy, pretension and betrayal, until we consider a lie to be the truth. It deftly takes cover behind a mask of goodness and even of holiness.
It flaunts its appeals to truth, justice, freedom, beauty and other values, corrupting them in the process by using them for one's selfish purposes rather than for God and the good of others.
We have to be wary of the factors and conditions that can make conceit germinate in our heart. These can be the tendency to pamper ourselves and others, especially the children, with all sorts of amenities, not saying enough to the demands of our flesh.
We need to humble ourselves, because this indispensable virtue of humility is a result more of humbling oneself than of being humbled by outside factors. The former creates a stable state of mind. The latter is dependent on passing circumstances.*
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