Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
So much of our progress in living the Christian life is hampered by our own ego, self-centeredness and pride. Many people think sexual sins are the worst sins there are. While they are certainly bad, when it comes to being able to get past them, they pale in comparison to pride. Pride is a stubborn sin that refuses to go away, and puts up huge barriers between us and the God who made us. Whenever I am finding it difficult to progress in my spiritual life, I find that I need to do a deep examination of conscience to root out whatever traces of pride may have been rearing their ugly heads. I need to take that lower place at the table, realizing that it’s not about me, it’s about Christ. It’s an examination of conscience we should all make regularly.
And for our example, we can certainly look to today’s saint, St. Martin de Porres. He was the son of a Spanish nobleman of Peru, and a slave woman, probably black or perhaps Native American. His father refused to acknowledge him for eight years, and eventually gave up on the family after the birth of his sister. His mother apprenticed him to a local barber/surgeon when he was twelve. After a few years in this position, he applied to the Dominicans as a “lay helper” because he felt like he was not good enough to be a full brother. After some time with them, the community begged him to become a full brother and he did so, serving the poor and serving in the community’s priory and kitchen. But he never got past being “a poor slave,” even noting that the community should sell him when the priory was in debt.
St. Paul tells us today that “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” No matter how often we try to turn away, or more poignantly today, no matter how often we try to forget that God is God and we are not, God never turns away from us, and continues to give us the gifts and call us to service. What we are is God’s gift to us and what we become is our gift back to God. Putting our gifts at his service, ever aware of the source of those gifts, we are called to grow in holiness. St. Martin was called “Martin of Charity” because of his loving service to all those in need, and because of his great humility. May we see in him our model, never exalting ourselves, but always humbling ourselves for the sake of Christ.