The Utmost Price
The one thing that each of us can repay the Lord with is our humility, for its value in the eyes of God is undeniable. But how can one comprehend the meaning of humility? The inexorably approaching old age can be of help.
As you grow old, you gradually calm down and humble yourself. As years go by, we begin to understand that everything is transient, except the eternal love and God’s mercy. We are often insolent when we are young; we seem to be fighting with the whole world, burning and boiling inside while being embraced by a whirlpool of passions. As we grow old, our passions subside, our thoughts become more distinct and our mind settles. The feeling of our weakness and helplessness eventually makes us more humble.
Old age is a part of God’s providential care for us. It gives us an opportunity to pay the highest price for our life by showing humility. As we grow old, we become ready to give more, needing less; we are ready to focus on the main thing, no longer being torn apart by rebellious passions. We start to appreciate every moment, enjoy the breath of each new day in life and become thankful for everything.
“The fire burning inside a young man turns into the light that shines inside an old man. The key is to turn from fire into light when the “burning time” has passed. There is a time in life when we embody strength, and then there is time for us to become silence…” Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh used to say.
The Price of Eternal Life
Humility may also be a God’s gift to a person for his courageous heart. The lives of the saints give us many beautiful examples of youths and young maidens showing courage and steadfastness in faith and being rewarded for that with the crown of meekness and humility, acquiring righteousness in the prime of life and strength.
Speaking about repaying the Lord for all His blessings, I cannot but cite one episode from the life of Saint Patrick of Ireland (late 4th century – 5th century), whom God chose to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles in Ireland. In his own words, the saint spent most of his life at the “endmost lands of the earth”, bringing many people to Christ.
During one of his missions, Saint Patrick baptized Angus, son of the King of Munster. Performing the rite of baptism, Saint Patrick accidentally put the rather sharp tip of his staff on the prince’s foot and, not seeing this, continued the rite, leaning on the staff and piercing the baptismal candidate’s leg.
Throughout the entire ceremony Saint Patrick was leaning on his staff, as Angus stood still, enduring the excruciating pain. When, at the end of the ceremony, the saint noticed the blood flowing from the prince’s foot, he removed the staff and exclaimed in horror, “Why didn’t you tell me about it right away, but endured it for so long?” Angus explained that he thought this to be an essential part of the baptismal ceremony, representing the price that he had to pay to acquire eternal life.
Struck by the prince’s humility and courage, Saint Patrick took Angus’s shield and with the blood left on the tip of his staff inscribed a cross on it, promising that this shield would witness worldly and spiritual heroism.
Only courageous hearts are capable of humbling themselves. Christianity is generally the lot of strong and brave people. Let us remember this and ask the All-Merciful God to grant us courage and steadfastness in faith, for which we will repay the Lord with sincere humility.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds