ABRAHAM TO LOT: Let there be no quarrel, I beseech
thee, between me and thee; for we are brethren; if thou wilt go to the
left hand, I will take the right: if thou choose the right hand, I will
pass to the left (Gen. xiii. 8).
You now know how evil it is to take the first places, and to pay no
attention to what is right and becoming? You have seen how good it is to
be mild and reasonable, to yield the first place, and to take the lowest.
And sec how in the course of our instruction we have come to understand,
that he who chooses the first place for himself derives no profit from
it; but that he who chooses the lowest place, becomes daily more regarded
and respected by all, and esteemed in all things.
And not to prolong our instruction on this point, this I would exhort
you, that you become imitators of the blessed Patriarch, Abraham, and that
you should never be desirous of the first places, but rather be mindful
of the counsel of the blessed Paul, who bids us yield to one another in
honour (Rom. xii. 10), and that, rising above ourselves, we should be eager
for the lowest place; as Christ in today’s Gospel has said; concluding:
And he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
What then can compare with this, that yielding first place to others,
we come to enjoy a higher place; that esteeming others above ourselves,
we come to the highest honour. I exhort you therefore: let us be eager,
let us strive to imitate the humility of the Patriarch, to follow in his
footsteps who, even before the law, gave such an example of holy wisdom
to us who live under the Dispensation of grace. For it was true humility
of spirit this illustrious man showed to one who was not only inferior
to him in virtue, but also in age and all other respects. Consider how
this venerable man yields to the other, who was the younger, the uncle
to the son of his brother; he who had received such graces from God, to
one who had nothing to show in his favour, and how that which he as a young
man should say to his elder and to his uncle, this the patriarch says to
the young man.
Let us therefore show honour and respect, not alone to those that are
older than us, but also to our equals. For it is no humility to do what
you ought to do, or are compelled to do: that is not humility, but duty.
It is true humility to give way to those who are seen to be less than us.
And if we are truly wise, we shall consider no one as less than ourselves,
but all men as our superiors.
And this I say to you, not because of what we are, immersed in so many
sins, but even should anyone be conscious to himself of innumerable virtuous
actions, he shall have no profit of his so many good works unless he looks
upon himself as the lowest of men. For this is humility; when someone who
has reason to be honoured, remains obscure and unknown, and holds himself
modestly. For then he is uplifted to true honour, according to the promise
of our Lord, Who said: Everyone that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Let us therefore, I beseech you, let us all be earnest in striving through
humility to come to the summit of true glory, that we may receive from
the Lord the reward of the just, and be worthy of the same ineffable blessings,
through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom with the
Father and the Holy Ghost be there glory and honour, now and forever, throughout
all ages. Amen.