Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Christian Heritage - July 28 - Be Eager to Serve God in Humility

"If you see anyone better adorned than you, do not in eagerness of mind ascend above him, saying, 'I want to be above him or like him!' If you exalt yourself so, are you a faithful servant, since you are provoking the Lord to anger by opposing yourself to him? But if you see that someone has stronger resources than you, and out of envy disparage him, you are not walking in the plain road but going by trackless ways.

"So be eager to serve God in humility and do not give yourself up madly to pride; and do not exalt yourself in vain pretense over one who, if assessed justly, shines with a greater desire of eternal life than you burn with yourself, and who for his heavenly ardor is invited to the height of blessedness by him who loves all lovers of truth. For if you do, he who by his inspiration summoned you to the service of humility and the other to the gift of charity may come with the eye of knowledge and judge you with his righteous judgment, saying, 'You lifted yourself up in eager pride to a place for which you are not fit; leave your vainglory and submit in duty, and give this beloved one of mine the place of honor you so rashly seized!'"

Hildegard of Bingen (AD 1098-1179), Scivias II, Vision 5, From Classics of Western Spirituality, Mother Columba Hart and Jane Bishop, Paulist Press, 1990, 219

Hildegard was a German nun, mystic, prophet, and political moralist, was widely consulted as an oracle, and wrote prolifically on doctrinal matters. Not too shabby a CV.

I once heard a young fellow (a religious) say, "Heaven is not a democracy." His point is that God, even in Christ, is not unblinkingly, impersonally egalitarian in dispensing His chastisements and rewards to His adopted children. God sees *us* in Christ, not merely Christ in or over us, like a radiant cloak over rotting corpses. "Well done, my good and faithful servant. ... Not as well done, my good servant" (cf. Mth 25).

As a consequence, some paths within and into God's Kingdom, as a matter of sheer spiritual fact, intrinsically (but not necessarily) draw us deeper into God's grace and His embrace. Certainly, all paths and vocations in Christ have the potential for the attainment of full heavenly glory; but certain paths, certain responses to God's unceasing call of grace, have an intrinsic "edge" on other ways of serving Him. It's a thought well worth considering. I'd be happy even just to be the scum of Heaven. "Well done, my decent and fairweather janitor."

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