Ave Maria Meditations
True humility is justice to God and to ourselves. It is a deep sense of God’s greatness and of our own nothingness. Hence St. Bernard and speaking of Mary’s cardinal virtues, could find no more triumphant demonstration of her justice than that which is afforded by her humility. The signal token of Mary’s justice is her declaring herself to be the handmade of the Lord. Mary feels that she is nothing before God, who is all in all, and because she is the most humble, she becomes the most highly exalted of all creatures, for the last must be first and the lowly must be raised to high degree.
But the perfection of humility does not consist in merely acknowledging one’s own nothingness and vileness in comparison with God. It is more, it is to rejoice in one’s own loneliness that all glory may be rendered to Him who alone is great and worthy of honor.
Now in the Magnificat we find the most humble Virgin taking an ineffable complacency and her natural weakness and littleness. “He has regarded the humility of his handmade,”she said. The Greek word here, rendered humility, really means loneliness. Mary’s exultation is due to the fact that God has looked with favor upon her loneliness, that He has cast on her that glance of love and almighty power which raises the miserable from the dust and the poor out of the mire to set them among the princes of the people. “He has regarded the humility of his handmade. Behold henceforth all generations should call me blessed.”
As the pride of the first man brought death to the world, so Mary’s humility gave entrance to our life…but we have other clear proofs of Mary’s humility. She processed in the special degree that generous instinct of self effacement which characterizes humble souls. Their humility seeks to hide itself from the eyes of men, to avoid praise and honor, to bury itself in the obscurity of its own nothingness. Hence it was that Mary, with mysterious silence concealed from Joseph the secret of her maternity even when her spouse, a just man, could not but doubt her honor. Again, Mary, though purer than the angels, goes to be purified in the temple as one unclean. She, the Mother of God, seems On Golgatha to be the mother of a criminal.
But yet more admirable is Mary’s humility during the three years of Jesus’ public life. She now conceals not merely her privileges but her very self. She seems forgotten by all, even by her Son. Lastly, after the glorious ascension of our Lord, Mary lived in humility and obscurity, in subjection to St. John and the other apostles. Only after her death was the most holy Virgin to be exalted in proportion to her humility. She was delivered by the power of God from the ignominy of the grave and borne up to heaven and crowned as Queen of Angels.
Fr. Luigi Lanzoni