Monday, June 08, 2009

Saying of the Desert Christians: Humility 3


As abba Macarius was returning to his cell from the marsh carrying palm-leaves, the devil met him with a sharp sickle and would have struck him but he could not. He cried out, "Great is the violence I suffer from you, Macarius, for when I want to hurt you, I cannot. But whatever you do, I do and more also. You fast now and then, but I am never refreshed by any food; you often keep vigil, but I never fall asleep. Only in one thing are you better than I am and I acknowledge that." Macarius said to him, "What is that?" and he replied, "It is because of your humility alone that I cannot overcome you."

Some thoughts

Some thing I ought to have said at the beginning of this section is that me attempting to communicate anything about humility is like asking a blind person to read a map. I am not a humble person. I am frequently reminded of this. I struggle with it, and i wonder if i can even claim to be in process toward it. But for what it's worth, I desire it. There is an awful lot of me in the way, though.

So when I read about Marcarius being confronted by the devil in this way, I wonder what I can say about this that is of any use to any of us. I do notice that this Saying gives me a view of the devil I've never had before I read it... I'd never thought of the devil eating, or never sleeping. I'd never thought of how miserable it must be to be the devil. And yet, how dumb is that? What else comes of being separated from God but misery?

And clearly the point of this Saying is that humility is the key to overcoming the devil and presumably the world and the flesh as well.


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