A reflection on the first Mass reading for April 25, 2008 (1Pt 5:5b-14), by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB.
The first reading from St. Peter – this is from a man who’s getting ready to follow the one he denied fully and he’s giving advice from the heart, from his own life. He says, “I want to tell you what's the best.” “Beloved, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.’ So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you." (1Pt 5:5b-7) He knew how to build character.
Then we go to St. Benedict, and after we have ascended all the steps of humility in Chapter 7, he says: “the monk will presently arrive at that love of God which, when perfect, casts out fear. In this love he shall begin to observe without any labor and as it were naturally, and by habit, all those precepts which previously he had observed not without fear... All this the Lord will by the Holy Spirit graciously manifest in his workman now cleansed of vices and sins.” (RB 7)
Humility does cleanse us. It does open our eyes to the pride in our own hearts and our souls. Let's look back at the twelfth degree of humility where it says: “that a monk not only in his heart but also in his outward appearance always show his humility to all who see him... Whether sitting, walking or standing, he should keep his head bent down and his gaze fixed on the ground.” (RB 7) Let me explain the reason why I believe the gaze is on the ground. Do you remember John Paul II, how he would stop sometimes and hold onto the cross? You would see him with his head down, his face towards the ground, his eyes piercing the heavens. The eyes of his heart would pierce the heavens. That is a gaze of which St. Benedict is speaking.
It is something we can all do – clothe yourselves with humility, keep your eyes on Him. The gaze within should make your heart totally alive.