PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

 

I think I’ve met the most humble man in the world

I think I’ve met the most humble man in the world, and it is so humbling to meet such a man. It’s as though a mirror descended from heaven in the form of a tall 50-year-old man so I could see my sins more clearly.

That man is a priest named Fr. Cres Ubud, from a remote town in Cebu, the son (in a brood of five) of a poor couple living in the uplands. In a community retreat he gave, he told his life story in such a deceptively light and funny way that it cloaked some terrible truths, awful truths capable of shaking anyone deep within. He told us in vivid detail the terrible hardships he went through growing up, whether in the hands of his parents, family, relatives, political rebels, even the Church. He said he especially suffered from his mother, who was strict, punishing, and verbally harsh. He also said that he endured all sorts of ridicule from his kinsmen, all of whom were from a farming, unlettered background, who regarded Fr. Cres, as a young man, who was “a worm trying to reach heaven.” I am glad I heard him because he is exactly the kind of person who can expose my sins effortlessly, both old and new, which I wouldn’t have become more aware of had I not come.

A humble man is honest, not ashamed, because he doesn’t carry any psychological baggage. Fr. Cres reminded me of how ashamed I had been of my own background, especially the hardships in life I went through, although nothing in my experience can probably compare with Fr Cres’s sufferings. His honesty ironically gave him the confidence to tell his story without shame, because he was able to transcend all humiliations, as he allowed God to straighten everything that was crooked in his life.

A humble man takes whatever comes in life as part of the holy will of God. Not me. My favorite sin in complaining -- a lot. When it rains, I tend to say, “Oh no, it is raining!” And when the sun rises in midday, I’d say, “Oh no, it’s so hot and humid!” The reactions have become almost instinctive I forgot grumbling is a sin.

A humble man is detached from the world. In contrast, I have made an idol out of comfort. Trust me to complain of my lot in life whether I am stuck in traffic or I didn’t win the jackpot prize, instead of choosing to offer my privations and sufferings as a loving sacrifice.

A truly humble man sees everyone as equal and important (if not more important or better than him). Sometimes, I still fall into the trap of measuring my own worth (and consequently other people’s worth) in terms of the world’s (faulty) logic and (corrupt) standards.

A humble man has a simple (child-like) trust in God. Me? I tend to listen to false prophets outside until I become a prophet myself of anxiety, cynicism, distrust, despair.

A humble man loves his enemies, viewing them as God’s children too. I tend to hate my enemies, especially the detractors of the Catholic Church instead of engaging them in a more loving and peaceful way, because of my need to look good and my need to be right.

A humble man is deeply attuned to God. I tend to seek worldly knowledge instead of focusing more on the knowledge of God. It could be because I am more eager to please men than to please God.

A humble man is not easily misled. I can be quite careless with lies and untruths, especially those peddled by mass media. I tend to easily believe gossip, innuendoes, and half-truths as gospel truth, failing to see through the deception and hidden agenda.

There’s something about humility that disarms, especially the proud -- enough to expose things in that person, although in a gentle way, not in a condemning manner. I am grateful to have listened to such a humble man, for I was able to reassess how much Christianized I still need to become so far in my own journey of faith. After the quiet exposé, I was made sorrowful, but I was gladdened in no time by the knowledge that I was able to see my faults at all, and thankful that I was given a new chance to repent and atone. I know I still have miles to walk, but as the humble man of God has shown, I know the humble way is to put my trust in God, that God knows me far better than I know myself, and loves me more than I can possibly imagine. He will not condemn me so harshly and rashly as I do myself.

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