Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanich) reflects on the price we can pay for the Lord’s riches.
The ultimate price
What can each of us give back to the Lord? Humility. In God’s eyes, it has the ultimate value. How can we comprehend the meaning of humility? Imminent and unrelenting old age will come to the rescue and help us.
As you grow older, you gradually gain peace and humility. With the benefit of hindsight, you come to an understanding that all things must pass and only God’s mercy and love prevail. When you are young, you are bold enough to set up the fight with the whole world; you are on fire, the passions run high and bubble all over and around. Once you get older and the dust settles, you gain stability of the mind and clarity of thought. By feeling frail and helpless, all of a sudden… you grow humble.
Old age is a providential gift from God. It gives us the chance to pay the utmost price for our life: humility. Growing old, we are willing to give more, our needs are few, and so we are ready to concentrate on the most important things since the storm of youthful passions no longer wreaks havoc in our souls. We treasure every single moment and the breath of a new day, enjoy life, and count our blessings.
“A young man is all fired up whereas an old man is lit up from within. We have to be able to keep the fire going while we can but, once it is extinguished, we must find a way to give off the light. We must be a formidable force at some point in life and learn the art of stillness at another,” observes Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh.
The cost of eternal life
Humility might also be a gift from God awarded to men with hearts that shall know no fear. There are many glorious examples from the lives of the saints about young men and maidens who exhibited steadfastness in their faith and courage, and who were rewarded with the crowns of meekness and humility, having joined the ranks of the righteous in the full vigor of life and strength.
Speaking about the cost we can pay to the Lord for all His riches, I cannot but offer another example from the life of St. Patrick of Ireland (late fourth to fifth centuries) who was chosen by God to preach the Gospels to the pagans of Ireland. He spent the major part of his life at “the ends of the earth,” as the saint himself described it, and brought a great many people to Christ.
Once during his evangelical mission, St. Patrick baptized Aengus, son of the King of Munster. During the rite of Baptism, the saint accidentally pierced the prince’s foot with the sharp point of his staff, and failing to notice what he had done, he carried on with the Baptism, all the while leaning on his staff as was his habit.
St. Patrick kept leaning on his staff during the rest of the rite while Aengus bore the excruciating pain unmoved. When St. Patrick, at the close of the ceremony, saw the blood flowing from the prince’s foot, he removed the staff and exclaimed, aghast: “Why didn’t you tell me right away instead of suffering for so long?” Aengus replied that he thought it might be a required part of the ceremony, a price he had to pay for receiving the gift of eternal life. Thoroughly impressed by his humility and heroism, St. Patrick took Auengus’ shield and inscribed on it a cross with the bloody tip of his staff, and promised that it would be the signal of countless spiritual and temporal triumphs.
Only truly fearless hearts are capable of humility. In general, Christianity is the lot of those who are strong and courageous. Let’s remember this, and ask our Most Merciful God to bestow upon us strength and steadfastness in faith while we repay the Lord for His gifts with honest humility.