How the Humble are Exalted


What difference do our human conditions make to God?

Our pretensions, our positions, our superior advantages: what does He care about such things? Poor little gnats, strutting about, despising other gnats because their wings are a little less sleek and their feet not quite so thickly furred: of what consequence is all that to him? Whether we are great or small, in his eyes our conditions are equal, and since no one of them corresponds to his nature, did not his honor demand that he should choose the lowest? Only thus could He manifest His indifference.

By identifying himself with the negation of our glories, he would show that he is sufficient unto himself. One can hardly imagine how, in the presence of Nazareth, these thoughts assert themselves. The human condition of the Savior becomes so apparent there that the divine point of view is dazzlingly clear. And this poverty, freely chosen, draws in its wake, before the mind's eye, the eternal magnificence. And this nothingness is the best pedestal from which we can leap upward toward the infinite. . .

We reflect on how deserving of pity they are whom so much humility scandalizes, who go away saying to themselves, "Is that all!" Yes, it's true: that is all! The Creator of the heavens is troubled by no such false shame. All is great from the viewpoint of him before whom everything is small; and since his heart inclines him to abase himself, he is exquisitely happy and proud to abase himself lower and still lower.




Father Antonin Gilbert Sertillanges, O.P., "How the Humble are Exalted." excerpted from What Jesus Saw from the Cross (Sophia Institute Press, 2008),


Father Antonin Gilbert Sertillanges, O.P. (1863-1948), O.P., was a French Catholic philosopher and spiritual writer. Born Antonin-Dalmace, he took the name Antonin-Gilbert when he entered the Dominican order. His scholarly work was concerned with the moral theory of Thomas Aquinas. In the English-speaking world, he is best known for two non-specialist works. The Intellectual Life is a practical guide for how to structure one's life so as to make progress as a scholar. What Jesus Saw from the Cross is a spiritual work that drew upon the time Sertillanges spent living in Jerusalem.


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