St Bernard: Are You Imitating the Model of Meekness?

Feast of St George the Great Martyr

Bernard_Square.jpgBEFORE I SPEAK of the different steps of humility—which indeed St Benedict does not ask us to count but to climb—I will first try to show what we may expect to find at the top. The toil will be easier if we have the profit before our eyes. Our Lord shows us plainly both the difficulty and the reward of the work. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn. 14.6). The way is humility, the goal is truth. The first is the labor, the second the reward. But you may ask: “How do I know that he is speaking of humility? He only uses a general word, “I am the Way’”? Well, I will give you a clearer test. “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart” (Mt. 11.29). He points to himself as an example of humility, a model of meekness. Imitate him and you will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life (Jn. 8.12). What is the light of life but truth that enlightens every man that comes into the world (Jn. 1.9) and shows us where the true life is to be found? So, when he says: “I am the Way and the Truth,” he adds, “and the Life.” It is as if he said: “I am the Way, I lead to the Truth; I am the Truth, I promise Life; and I myself am the very Life I give you.” “For this is eternal life, that they may know you the one true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn. 17.3). Supposing, then, that you go on to object: “I see the way—humility; I long for the goal to which it leads—truth; but what if the way is so difficult that I can never reach the goal?” The answer comes promptly: “I am the life,” that is, I am the food, to sustain you on your journey.”

—St Bernard of Clairvaux, The Steps of Humility & Pride

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