Learn to love humility, for it will cover all your sins. All sins are repulsive before God, but the most repulsive of all is pride of the heart. Do not consider yourself learned and wise; otherwise, all your efforts will be destroyed, and your boat will reach the harbor empty. If you have great authority, do not threaten anyone with death. Know that, according to nature, you too are susceptible to death, and that every soul sheds its body as its final garment.
—St. Anthony of Padua
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.”
In the face of violence, Jesus calls us to answer with love; in the face of malice, with meekness; in the face of injustice, with humility. When we are wronged, it stirs up our self-centered pride and makes us defensive. But Jesus is asking us not to fight back against those who have wronged us, to resist the instinct to defend ourselves and protect our own interests. Being on the receiving end of human sinfulness doesn’t give us a pass to ignore the humanity of our brother, to fail to see him as a child of God. Experiencing injustice, rather, should be a reminder to us of our own sinfulness and unworthiness, of the fact that we are redeemed only by the mercy of God. These experiences of injustice, then, become opportunities to imitate Christ by showing mercy. If we wish to receive His mercy for ourselves, we must enter into it fully and extend mercy to others.
On this feast of St. Anthony of Padua, let us reflect upon his words on humility and forgiveness. Let us acknowledge our faults and remember the times when God has shown mercy toward us, lifting us back up time and again to allow us to keep moving forward. May our hearts be softened by His goodness so that we might radiate His love in the world.
We are formed by environment and grace, by politics and prayer, by church and conscience. All God’s creatures conspire to teach us as well. We stumble. We stutter. We rise. We are lifted.
—St. Anthony of Padua
Image: Giacomo Farelli, Saint Anthony of Padua with the Christ Child / PD-US