Gentleness, Patience, and the Ability to Bear With One Another in Love…
I [Paul], then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received…” With these words, Paul addresses the church in Ephesus with both love and good advice. What kinds of virtues are necessary for us to develop in order to live in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ?
Inspired as he is by the Holy Spirit, Paul is never short of answers for us. The first virtue he tells us is necessary for living in the manner of our calling is, humility. Is this not the prime virtue? Of the seven deadly sins, pride is the vice from which all of the other vices (greed, anger, jealousy, lust, gluttony and sloth) descend. The opposite of pride is humility. It is the virtue that heals us from pride and all of the other vices. Humility is the foundation of true prayer, it is the virtue that points us toward Christ, who is the very model of humility toward the Father. It is this virtue that is often the hardest for us to acquire. Of course we cannot by our own force of will acquire this holy virtue. If it is our will to develop this virtue, though, no matter how small our will might be in the beginning, God, who knows our hearts, will give us every grace we need to succeed. If we continue to deepen our relationship with him in prayer, he will always forgive our failings and continue to encourage us as well.
When we develop the habits of humility, the other virtues that Paul mentions in the beginning of chapter 4 in his Letter to the Ephesians, start to fall into place in our daily lives as well. What are these other virtues? Gentleness, patience, and the ability to bear with one another in love. These virtues clearly find their source in humility. Humility teaches us that we are, in fact, our brother’s, our sister’s, keeper; that he/she is a child of God, just as I am. When we are humble in Christ, we begin to see others as he sees them. It is out of this, then, that gentleness and patience make sense. When we can start to see others as Christ sees them, we begin to always see the good in them, rather than always looking for what is flawed. In humility, we begin to recognize ourselves as sinners in need of forgiveness too. We know the pain of guilt. So when the other comes to us for forgiveness, it is easier for us to give them pardon, for we know what the sorrow and the emptiness of having harmed a relationship feels like. We know, too, what the need to be in relationship again feels like.
This is how we bear with one another in love. This is how we live a life worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus. We begin by recognizing that in Christ we are one Body, one Spirit. We are sons and daughters of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (verses 4-6). It is in this understanding of faith that we are able to develop the virtues of our calling. It is in giving ourselves to Christ that we are given all the graces we need to live and to love as he did. Praise be to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Lord, we turn our hearts to you. Give us the graces we need to be your true, good, and faithful servants in our lives. Deepen in us the desire to develop the virtues of humility, gentleness, patience, and love, so that we might better live in the manner that you have called us to in our baptisms. We pray all of this in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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