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Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Holy Humility of the Common Poor

By Caryll Houselander

Other mothers, seeing such singular gifts that Christ must have had, such gifts of mind and body, such skill and such brilliance of thought, would surely have fretted if such a son had not shown more ambition, had not made a name for himself. Why be a humble carpenter? For example, with his ability, and his imagination, he could become a famous wood sculptor. Another mother would have complained that so brilliant a boy could surely better himself and her family fortune at the same time! Had she not seen with her own eyes that even the proud Rabbis were awed and silenced by his uncanny wisdom? Was it not the duty of such a son to provide a little comfort for his mother’s old age?

But for Mary of Nazareth, it was enough that her Son was about his Father’s work. That is what he had said and his word was good enough for her. She knew that if he chose to be a poor working boy, absorbed in his trade, putting all that was in him into his humble job as an ordinary woodworker, if he was content and proud to bring home his laborer’s pay towards their daily bread, then most certainly that was God’s work. “He has put down the mighty from their seats and hath exalted the humble.”

He obeyed her because he trusted her, because she never resisted the Holy Spirit by whom she had conceived him, because she was passionately devoted to the will of God, because she loved the world. Her values were his values. Their own miracle went on, and it went on as mysteriously and secretly as a pure bright stream running underground. Just as Christ had received God’s love from Mary in his infancy, now he did God’s will in the little acts of obedience that filled the loveliness of their lives between the loss in the Temple and the temptation in the wilderness.

Caryll Houselander (+ 1954) was a British mystic, poet and spiritual teacher.
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