Monday, June 30, 2014

6 - HUMILITY IN Daily Life

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar:
for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen,
how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

 And this commandment have we from him,
That he who loveth God love his brother also.

1 John 4:20-21

What a solemn thought, that our love to God will be measured by our everyday fellowship with men and the love it displays; and that our love to God will be found to be a delusion, except its truth is proved in standing the test of daily life with our fellowmen. It is even so with our humility. It is easy to think we humble ourselves before God: humility towards men will be the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real; that humility has taken up its abode in us; and become our very nature; that we actually, like Christ, have made ourselves "of no reputation" (Phil. 2:7). When in the presence of God lowliness of heart has become, not a posture we pray to Him, but the very spirit of our life, it will manifest itself in all our bearing towards our brethren.

The lesson is one of deep importance. The only humility that is really ours is not that which we try to show before God in prayer, but that which we carry with us, and carry out, in our ordinary conduct. The insignificances of daily life are the importances and the tests of eternity, because they prove what really is the spirit that possesses us. It is in our most unguarded moments that we really show and see what we are. To know the humble man, to know how the humble man behaves, you must follow him in the common course of daily life.

Humility before God is proved humility before men

Is not this what Jesus taught? It was when the disciples disputed who should be greatest; when He saw how the Pharisees loved the chief place at feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues; when He had given them the example of washing their feet, that He taught His lessons of humility. Humility before God is nothing if not proved in humility before men.

It is even so in the teaching of Paul. To the Romans He writes: "In honor preferring one another" (Rom 12:10); "Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to those that are lowly".  "Be not wise in your own conceit."  To the Corinthians: "Love," and there is no love without humility as its root, "vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, seeks not its own, is not provoked." (1Cor. 13:4-5) To the Galatians: "Through love be servants one of another" (Gal. 5:13), "Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." To the Ephesians, immediately after the three wonderful chapters on the heavenly life: "Therefore…walk… with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love" (Eph. 4:1-2); and "Giving thanks always…submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ." (Eph. 5:20-21). To the Philippians: "Doing nothing through faction or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind, each counting other better than himself" (Phil. 2:3). Have the mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and humbled Himself." And to the Colossians: "Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, even as the Lord forgave you." (Col. 3:12-13)


It is in our relationship to one another, in our treatment of one another, that the true lowliness of mind and the humility of heart are to be seen. Our humility before God has no value, but as it prepares us to reveal the humility of Jesus to our fellow-men. Let us study humility in daily life in the light of these words.

The humble man seeks at all times to act up to the rule, "In honor preferring one another; Serve one of another; esteem others better than oneself;  submit yourselves one to another." It is often asked, how we can we count others better than ourselves, when we see that they are far below us in wisdom and in holiness, in natural gifts, or in grace received? The question proves at once how little we understand what real lowliness of mind. True humility comes when, in the light of God, we have seen ourselves to be nothing, have consented to part with and cast away self, to let God be all. The soul that has done this, and can say, "I have I lost myself in finding You," no longer compares itself with others. It has given up forever every thought of self in God's presence. It meets its fellowman as one who is nothing, and seeks nothing for itself. It is a soul that serves God, and for His sake a serves all. A faithful servant may be wiser than the master, and yet retain the true spirit and posture of the servant.

The humble man looks on every child of God as the son of a king

The humble man looks upon every child of God, even the feeblest and unworthiest, and honors him and prefers him in honor as the son of a King. The spirit of Him who washed the disciples' feet, makes it a joy to us to be indeed the least, to be servants one of another.

The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before him. He can bear to hear others praised and himself forgotten, because in God's presence he has learnt to say with Paul, "I am nothing." (2 Cor. 12:11). He has received the spirit of Jesus, who pleased not Himself, and sought not His own honor, as the spirit of his life.

Amid what are considered the temptations to impatience and touchiness, to hard thoughts and sharp words, which come from the failings and sins of fellow Christians, the humble man carries the often repeated injunction in his heart, and shows it in his life, "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, even as Christ forgave you." (Col. 3:13).  He has learnt that in putting on the Lord Jesus he has put on the heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and long-suffering. Jesus has taken the place of self, and it is not an impossibility to forgive as Jesus forgave. His humility does not consist merely in thoughts or words of self-depreciation, but as Paul puts it, in "a heart of humility," encompassed by compassion and kindness, meekness and long-suffering, the sweet and lowly gentleness recognized as the mark of the Lamb of God.

In striving after the higher experiences of the Christian life, the believer is often in danger of aiming at and rejoicing in what one might be called the more human virtues. Such verities are boldness, joy, contempt of the world, zeal, self-sacrifice, even the old Stoics taught and practised these. Meanwhile, the deeper and gentler, the diviner and more heavenly graces are scarcely thought of or valued. These verities are those that Jesus first taught upon earth (because He brought them from heaven) those which are more distinctly connected with His cross and the death of self, poverty of spirit, meekness, humility, lowliness. Therefore, let us put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering Let us prove our Christlikeness, not only in our zeal for saving the lost, but in our conduct with all our fellowmen, bearing  with and forgiving one another, even as the Lord forgave us. (Col. 3:12-13)

Fellow Christians, let us study the Biblical portrait of the humble man.  And let us ask our brethren, and ask the world, whether they recognize in us the likeness to the original. Let us be content with nothing less than taking each of these Scripture verses as the promise of what God will work in us. Let us take them as the revelation in words of what the Spirit of Jesus will give as a birth within us.  And let each failure and shortcoming simply urge us to turn humbly and meekly to the meek and lowly Lamb of God. Have full assurance that where He is enthroned in the heart, His humility and gentleness will be one of the streams of living water that flow from within us.

“I knew Jesus, and He was very precious to my soul: but I found something in me that would not keep sweet and patient and kind. I did what I could to keep it down, but it was there. I besought Jesus to do something for me, and when I gave Him my will, He came to my heart, and took out all that would not be sweet, all that would not be kind, all that would not be patient, and then He shut the door.”
George Foxe

Once again I repeat what I have said before. I feel deeply that we have very little conception of what the Church suffers from the lack of this divine humility, the nothingness that makes room for God to prove His power. It has not been long since a Christian, of a humble, loving spirit, acquainted with many mission stations of various societies, expressed his deep sorrow that in some cases the spirit of love and forbearance was sadly lacking. Men and women,  brought close together with others of uncongenial minds, find it hard to bear, and to love, and to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3)  And those who should have been fellow-helpers of each other's joy, became a hindrance and a weariness. And all for the one reason, the lack of humility which counts itself nothing, which rejoices in becoming and being counted the least, and only seeks, like Jesus, to be the servant, the helper and comforter of others, even the lowest and unworthiest.

And what is the reason that men who have joyfully given up themselves up for Christ find it so hard to give themselves up for their brethren? Is the church not to blame? It has so little taught its members that the humility of Christ is the first of the virtues, the best of all the graces and powers of the Spirit. The church not preached humility as needed and possible not placed it first as Christ did. But let us not be discouraged. Let the discovery of the lack of this grace stir us to larger expectation from God. Let us look upon every brother who tries or vexes us, as God's means of grace, God's instrument for our purification, for our exercise of the humility that Jesus, our Life, breathes within us. And let us have such faith in the all of God, and the nothing of self, so that we may, in God's power, only seek to serve one another in love.
Humility - Andrew Murray


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Departure of St. Abraam - Bishop of El-Fayyoum

Anba Abraam, Bishop of El-fayyoum and El-Giza, departed in the year 1630 A.M. (June 10, 1914 A.D) His name was Paul (Boulos), was born in 1545 A.M. (1829 A.D) in the Estate of "Gilda", district of Mallawi, governate of Miniah, to righteous parents. They brought him up in a Christian manner. They sent him to the church school, where he learned religious subjects and church hymns. As he was a very bright student, Anba Yousab, the Bishop of Sunabbo ordained him a deacon for the church of Gilda. His heart longed for the monastic life, so he went to El-Muharrak monastery where he was ordained a monk by the name of Paul Gabriel El-Muharraki. He was nineteen years old.

He was meek, humble, had a pure life, and he prayed much in seclusion. Accordingly, the monks loved him exceedingly. When Anba Yakoubos, bishop of El-Meniah, heard of him, he summoned him. He retained him in the episcopate for a period of time during which he promoted him to a priest. When he returned to his monastery, the monks with a consensus decided to make him the abbot over the monastery after the death of their Abbot. He was then promoted to archpriest (hegumen) in the days of Abba Demitrius the second (111th Patriarch).  He remained Abbot of the monastery for five years, during which the monastery was the refuge for thousands of the poor. So he was called the father of the poor and the destitute.

During his time as abbot, he did not spare an effort to improve the condition of the monastery spiritually and physically. He improved its finances by developing its agricultural land. As he increased his charity toward the poor, the orphans and the widows, some of the monks became more resentful of him, for they considered these charitable works as squandering and extravagant acts. They complained against him to Anba Morcos, Metropolitan of El-Behira, who was the acting Patriarch after the death of Pope Demitrius. Anba Morcos accepted their complaints and deposed him as the abbot of their monastery. Shortly after his dismissal, he left El-Muharrak monastery and went to the monastery of El-Baramous. Several monks from the El-Muharrak monastery went to the monastery of El-Baramous, with archpriest Bolous (Abba Abraam), because they did not like the attitudes of the complaining monks. He stayed there for some time studying the Bible and teaching the monks.

The abbot of the monastery of El-Baramous at that time was archpriest Youhanna the Scribe, who became later on. In the year 1597 A.M. (1881 A.D.), Pope Kyrillos the Fifth chose and ordained him a bishop for the parish of El-Fayyoum and El-Giza. He replaced its reposed bishop, Anba Eisak, and was ordained with the name of Abba Abraam.

During his episcopate, he became famous for two attributes:

The First: His charity to the multitude of poor that came to the bishopric residence. He gave them all what he had of money. He made the bishopric residence a shelter for many of them. He offered clothing for those who had no clothes and food for those who were hungry. He never allowed anyone to offer him food that was better than that offered to the poor. Once he went down to visit the poor while they were eating, and found that the food he was offered that day was better than that offered to them. He became very sad, and immediately relieved the nun supervising the feeding service of the poor from her duties.

The Second: He was famous for his prayer of faith. Many miracles were performed, through his prayers, on his hands. His fame was spread to all parts of Egypt and also to some parts of Europe. Many patients, of different religions, came to him, seeking the blessing of his prayers and were healed. Anba Abraam was well read of the holy books. He always gave to his visitors advice, instructions and sermons which showed the great depth of his knowledge. More important was that he possessed a pure nature and many virtues. Particularly, his severe denial of himself, and his true renouncement of the pleasures of life and its vain glory. His food and clothing were just bare necessities. His ambition never looked up to the glory of higher ranks or positions. When the Patriarch wanted to promote him to the rank of metropolitan he apologized saying that the Holy Bible did not mention any ranks in the priesthood except the ranks of the priest and the bishop.

He was also straightforward in revealing his own opinion, looking only for the truth. He never gave any attention to the rank and greatness of people in higher places, for their greatness was far less than the greatness of the truth. For this reason, all the metropolitans and bishops of the church avoided his anger and sought to please him.

Abba Abraam departed to the heavenly bless on the 3rd day of Baouna, 1630 A.M. (June 10, 1914 A.D.)

More than ten thousand Christian and Moslems walked in his funeral precession. His pure body was laid in the tomb, which was prepared for him in the monastery of the Virgin Mary in El-Ezab. Many miracles were manifested through him after his departure, and his tomb became and still is a pilgrimage for many who have special needs or infirmities.

May his prayers be with us and Glory be to God forever. Amen.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pentecost - St. Ephraim The Syrian

“Now the Prophets performed all other signs; but on no occasion supplied the deficiency of members. But the deficiency of the body was reserved, that it should be supplied through our Lord; that souls might perceive that it is through Him that every deficiency must be supplied. It is meet, then, that the prudent should perceive that He Who supplies the deficiencies of the creatures, is Master of the formative power of the Creator.

But when He was upon earth, our Lord gave to the deaf and dumb, the power of hearing and of speaking tongues which they had not learned; that after He had ascended, men might understand that He gave to His disciples the power of speaking in every tongue.”

St. Ephraim the Syrian


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