It helps, sometimes, to take a different perspective. In many cultures, holiness is up; evil is down. The head is treated with honor and respect. Conversely, the feet are dirty and sinful. For these folks, the most humble word for “I” actually means, “I whose head is lower than the dust on your feet.”
So for a moment, let’s observe this woman with that other set of eyes. She never utters a word. Kneeling, she sheds silent tears, loosens her hair to wipe Jesus’ feet, even kisses them. Her actions form a wordless prayer of humility. Beginning with repentance from the depths of remorse, she ends in faithful worship that exalts Christ. “Before you, Lord, I am not worthy. Even the dust on your feet is greater than I. Receive, Lord, my tears. Take my hair to cleanse away the filth; receive my kisses to show how dear even your feet are to me.”
To affirm “I am humble” requires a prerequisite: self-examination and surrender of all impediments in my relationship to God and man. St. Ignatius’ memorable prayer, Suscipe, is that model for humble surrender. Today, let’s take a moment to surrender all we “have” to Christ.
— Howard Craig is the director of advancement for the Midwest Jesuits. He and his wife Cheryl have five daughters, six grandkids, and two dogs.