Why Did Christ Humble Himself in the Face of Evil?

110514-pope-1Earlier this week we read the magnificent hymn from Philippians, which sings of the Humility of Jesus:

Have among yourselves the same attitude 
that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and, found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross (Phil 2:5-8).

Why this incredible humility? The Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, had always enjoyed His Father’s love and been praised gloriously by rank upon rank of angels. He had know all glory and all beatitude in the grand perichoresis (the divine dance of love and relationship in the Trinity). The angels, too, in their nine ranks (or choirs) also danced and moved about in astonishing praise.

But now he walked our dusty roads and was perceived to be merely a man from the lowly hick town of Galilee. He who is God (yet seen now only as a man) was loved by some but scorned and mocked by many. “What good can possibly come from Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46) And when His hour came He submitted himself to a shameful death. He who was without sin was identified with the worst of sinners as He hung upon the Cross. Humiliavit semetipsum. (He humbled His very self.)

Why? Why such humility? If I were God (and aren’t you glad I am not), I would probably “solve” the problem of Satan and humanity’s sin by riding down on a lightning bolt, giving Satan the boot, and striking a deep fear within everyone that would command their obedience. We humans would crush power with greater power and combat egotism with a bigger ego. But God humbles himself even unto death, death on the Cross.


Perhaps an analogy will help: Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hatred, only love can do that. And pride cannot drive out pride, only humility can do that.

Pride is the worse sin and the root of every other sin. It was through pride that Lucifer said “I will not serve.” It was in pride that Adam and Eve believed the lie “You will be gods!”

Pride, colossal pride. How to conquer it? … Humility! Evil is conquered by its opposite, not by becoming the very evil we seek to conquer. If only we could learn this lesson. Instead we who think in human terms often seek to fight what and whom we oppose simply by becoming a bigger and more fearsome example of what we fight.

But the Lord broke the cycle of pride by humility. He broke the cycle of vengeance by accepting the blow without retaliation and with forgiveness. He absorbed hatred but did not return it. He did not beat Satan at Satan’s own game (for in so doing He would lose). He beat Satan by being God, rich in mercy. He did not make light of sin but accepted its full fury and showed us its awful reality.

And in conquering pride by humility He offers mercy to those who will accept it. For even having won, still He does not force His way on us and require us to accept mercy or Heaven. He simply offers them anew and awaits our sovereign answer. Even as the victor His stance is humble (for our pride still needs the remedy of humility, not of overpowering). His hand is extended in mercy. He seeks your reply to His offer of mercy, grace, and truth.

How will you answer Him? Humbly, He awaits your answer.

39 Replies to “Why Did Christ Humble Himself in the Face of Evil?”

  1. Msgr., Thank you for reminding us.

    I find myself wondering though how we are called to respond to the evil we see in the zealous followers of the Mohammedian heresy.

    When Catholics become more serious about their faith, they do things like go to Mass every day, they try to conform their lives more closely to the life of Jesus Christ, and they dedicate themselves to Eucharistic Adoration. When the followers of Mohammed become more serious about following the teachings in the book he produced, they cut off people’s heads, commit murder and rape, and sell women and children as slaves.

    Responding to this evil by accepting the blows without retaliation and with forgiveness only encourages the evil and leads to genocide as we are seeing. How are we called to respond to this?

    Thank you!

    1. The U.S. war in Iraq has been estimated to cost 1.7 trillion dollars. Total deaths have been estimated at 189, 000. Do you really feel that much safer after this effort? I think it is time to consider alternatives.
      Also, right here in this country, we have an undeclared war. Millions of innocents are being slaughtered legally every day.
      The writings of Dorothy Day and John Paul II are a good beginning to imagine a different path toward peace.

      1. Unfortunately, the ROE (rules of engagement) in this war prevent our military from being able to fight to win. We won WWII because we fought to win. This evil enemy is relentless. Their only ROE is to kill everyone, standing in their way, who fail to submit to their ideology. I don’t think God expects us to let them take over the world, which will happen if we let them continue unfettered. Sadly, no troops were left in Iraq to maintain the peace, so the evil was allowed to fester again. We, as individuals, can only change the world within our circle of influence, one person at a time, by our example and prayer.

      2. Our wars in the Middle East are manufactured including the enemy.

        It was Al Qaida that was beheading Christians in Syria as recently as last year and the Western leaders were on their side. The Basher regime protected its people including its ancient Christian population from this American, British, Israeli and Saudi created front-group. That was a public relations fiasco for the US and Britain so a new strategy – and re-packaged enemy – was devised: ISIS. A few fake beheading of Westerners were subsequently staged and now the gullible public can support bombing Syria and sending troops into Iraq again. It is astounding that people cannot see through this. They will apparently believe anything they are told by their lying Government and it’s media organs.

        Our leaders lust after Syria, Iraq, and Iran (and ultimately Russia) and are willing to lie and to kill limitless numbers of people in order to control these lands and the people within them just as they control ours. We are no longer free and our society has been completely subverted. It is only a matter of time before the tyranny is naked and visible to all.

        This is also the reason behind the conflict in the Ukraine which was initiated by the Western powers and it is why we are sending armies into Africa at this time. The manufactured reason of Ebola is being used as justification to send troops into African nations that have resources we covet.

        There is absolutely NOTHING Christian about supporting all of this!

          1. I would highly recommend to someone to do their own research on these matters but if you are interested in a resource to aggregate and provide analysis of sourced material for you on the matters about which I wrote, I can recommend the X22 Report which does a fine job of it.

          2. You are spot on Josh. But for people to find the truth they first need to turn away and stop listening to the propaganda machine of our corporate owned media – truth will never be found there. The first victim of war is the truth. But we have a powerful weapon against it – it’s called the rosary.

    2. Paul – we respond by becoming meek and gentle as a lamb. We consecrate ourselves to Mary the Mother of Jesus and very, very humbly ask for her very real intercession to continue our daily walk. This Way of the Lamb does not encourage evil at all. Our prayers (via the communion of saints) throughout the centuries have kept the evil one at bay. People pray and believe in Jesus in dwindling numbers compared to prior centuries and the direct result is this horrendous rise in evil…It may get worse. Humans will always be violent without the Mercy and Graces of Peace of the Lord. Most of the leaders of the world countries know about the genocides, the Christian martyrs, the wiping out of peoples — they don’t want to do what we want them to do. So, vote your conscious and walk quietly praying all the time for the Lord’s Will to be done. He alone creates a heaven on earth for us (inside) and He alone can change what we view as horrors and disasters into something Good. It is our chance to achieve a humble holy soul if we don’t respond to evil with evil, but respond to evil with love – to the death (when it is our individual time) like Jesus when it was His time.

      1. Very well put Patty. The miracle of doing the Father’s Will is in not doing our own, but in following Jesus. Do what is not “natural” but supernatural. It takes supernatural love to repay evil with good, violence with non violence, hatred with love. It takes supernatural love to die as a martyr to our own will and rise as a saint to the will of God.
        The law provided an eye for an eye but the new law is not based on legalism but on mercy and grace. Catholic Christians need reminding that to do the will of God is to be mother, brother and sister to Jesus Christ. Let us use those opportunities to experience God’s Creative tension, by responding with good in the face of evil, supernaturally.

  2. Yes, good points. However, war is unfortunately necessary to combat evil. It is the love of justice and goodness that are the catalysts to fight for all that is holy, good and true. The Crusades were justified in defending the lands that were threatened by Islam. St. George is shown striking the head of the dragon. Only God can destroy evil itself but we must also fight the good fight and this sometimes means killing those who would seek to destroy goodness. For those who remember, a slap was administered at Confirmation to remind us that we will be persecuted for our Faith and that we must defend it by being Soldiers of and for Christ.

    1. Yes, a balance is necessary. Jesus too did confront the obtuseness of his opponents and knew how to lay them out. But in the crucial battle he humbled himself becoming obedient unto death.

      1. This point has to do with the battle against sin, death and Satan. The objective of Jesus’ death was ro enable Him to put on immortality and reign forever as King in human flesh. He chose not to fight and kill above all because as King He had no mandate to do so on any of the facts He had to deal with.

        However, I have become convinced that He does have a mandate from the Law of Moses to order the nations to war against His ancient enemy Amalek, the adversary whose characteristic crime is the annihilation of the people of God. It is found at Exodus 17. We should have no objection to this, for Jesus has the right to give and take human life at will, and He is the Lord of Hosts.

      2. Humility in all things. If we truly grasp the greatness if God, His power snd His perfection, can any if us clsim6 to be worthy of His love? It is a great mystery to me how I am worthy if His love, such a weak snd imperfect son. Yet Jesus tells me that I am, so I believe but am truly humbled by that blessing.

        I was a soldier before I was anything else. While I retired, I will always be a soldier. Speaking from experience let me tell you,; there is no glory in war. There is no blessing that flows from it. war is a curse on humanity, a chastisement to give mankind a warning to repent. It is a glimpse into the very bowels of hell. While we believe as civilized people we can segment atrocities committed in war, war itself is an atrocity. We are hypocrites to think we can judge actions fomented in s cauldron of evil as right or just. That is not say that actions away from battle are not subject to justice ( like the genocide against civilians), but to say that armed conflict is not capable of “civilized” judgment.

        Defending the faith, and defending the faithful fall into a different class. Defending the faith is not a temporal conflict but a spiritual one. Defending the faithful, however, is almost always waged in the world. But, no modern war has been waged to defend the faithful.

        The end battle before us will be in defense if the faithful. And the battle that looms will be both spiritual and temporal. On the temporal plane, we cannot win without the Grace of God. That means that the hearts, minds and souls of those defending the faithful must be riveted to defense our of love, and seek victory not for ourselves but for the Honor and Glory of God.

        This will be a battle like no other, and will require allegiance to God, and no other master.

        1. Thank-you for your comment.

          Have you ever heard of what is called the “just war theory” of St. Augustine?

          Thank-you for your response and God Bless.

  3. If I were God (and having watched Bruce Almighty I’m also glad I’m not) I would certainly “solve” the problem of Satan and humanity’s sin by taking up residence in the womb of the only woman on earth who’s without sin, being born of her, and waiting forty days before being presented to the Father. Then I’d do one of two things: (1) Send the Holy Spirit there and then to exterminate every sinner – every ally of Satan – on earth and spend eternity sharing the universe with Mom with her and the angels worshipping Me..

    Alternatively (2) Stay for another thirty years and then go to my death and rise from the dead to make provision for sinners to be freed from the dominion of sin, death and Satan so that they can survive the coming of the Holy Spirit and join Mom in worshipping Me.

  4. Jesus enters into death to destroy death with His Omnipotent presence.

  5. I was just telling a lady last weekend that humility beats the devil every time. He is confounded by it. She told me I sounded like a preacher!

    The whole world was condemned via the sin of pride (Adam and Eve) and saved by humility (Jesus and Mary).

    How can such a simple truth be so difficult to understand?

    (Hint: pride…it infects us all)

  6. Read Leo Tolstoy, Mandela and Ghandhi….Retalitating evil with evil will only bring harm, murder. What Sunnis are doing against Shia and other sects of the Islam is the same. The Gospel on the other hand tells us that we must counter evil with humility, with goodness and life.

    War to me is killing the brothers, against which the Bible speaks prominently. But still I am not able to understand why YHWH asked Israelites to kill the others? Should we read Gottwald and think the alternative?


    1. The eradication of evil , of those who are in the so called ‘ perfect possession ‘ , who might be beyond deliverance by prayers, might need the’ deliverance ‘ by death , which is what some say also applied to Judas and Ananias and Sapphira , with St.Peter .

      Even the two thieves , seems only one gets delivered , – may be the ‘mystery of evil ‘ that St.John Paul 11 talks about , which is what is also said to have happened with the Nazis and possibly others who too become so well adjusted to evil that they might have stepped beyond the edge – thus a warning for any about the sin of presumption !

      Unsure if there were two demoniacs even at Gerasene and only one had any glimpse of good will in him , inorder to have been benefitted by The Lord’s presence !

      It is likley that most lay people atleast or may be God alone can discern who is in that stage !

      the famed serial killer Ted Bundy , who supposedly came from a devout Catholic family , became a psychopthic from pornography but said to have repented before his being electrocuted , might be one such case .

      The slave girl , in the incident with St.Paul , gets exorcised before she was to lead many astray ( thus, St.Paul too possibly a good patron for same ) ; in the case of Israelites too, some say that if they themselves had not become weakened by sin, they would have been good and strong enough to bring dleiverance for nations around but seems the enemy had always sensed that this was the people from whom the Savoir was to arise , hence always possibly targeted them , easy to do too , with all the far stronger pagan powers around .

      If one is dealing with a case of Mad Cow diseases and one had a remedy at hand, then the millions in the herd would not have to be killed ; seems that remedy for evil came with the Holy Spirit power in The Lord and may be one reason the enemy tries to target Christians especially , even when they are not any overt threat to these people and possibly agents of far greater good than the killers realise .

      The way to counter evil through deliverance by relying on the far far greater infinite power of The Lord . by acceptance of God as God by being in His will tottally – thank God that The Lord shows us The Way of humility and power , thus making same accessible for us , by The Spirit and more persons hopefully also beginning to see the need for same through ministry of deliverance which is , as experts tell us , as varied as there are ministries .

      http://catholic.net/index.php?option=dedestaca&id=1280 – another good article on topic of humility ;

      Those who get mistreated get to see same as a way to grow stronger in The Lord , by invoking His mercy and deliverance on all who are the occasions for same ; as much as there might be times when one might wish , atleast when it comes to major evils , that Peter’s exorcism power was at work ; The Lord might have difft plans or is it that we have become lukewarm and not able to spit out the evil .

      Thank God that there are many in The Church , including all her good priests who are powerful deliverers , esp, at every good confession too , let alone the Holy Mass , thus blessed like St .Paul , esp. with the aid of the enemy of our enemy – The bl.Mother !

      May the two edged sword of The Holy Spirit severe from us all, all that is not of God and fill us with His Spirit !

      Came across another well accalaimed book on the topic –

      http://www.leafletonline.com/MANUAL-OF-MINOR-EXORCISMS/productinfo/25530/ ; hopefully , many who plan on gifts for priests and deacons would include this and the book ,

      Freedom through Deliverance –

      http://www.queenship.org/product/Freedom-Through-Deliverance-3057.html – for the lay persons in their lives , with its interesting anecdotes on the need and format for this good prayer call.

      God bless !

  7. Jesus readily and openly confronted the religious leaders, but respected the political ones even though they deserved no more than the former. I ponder this, and think of angels…
    As for ‘Not beating Satan at his own game or He’ld lose? I think, no, maybe stalemate…
    And He simply offers and awaits our,’sovereign answer’! Truth I can hardly swallow.

  8. Apologies and clarification in the previous post – it was meant to say that may be most lay people would not know who has stepped beyond the edge of no return atleast as far as the fate of the soul , which helps us to keep hope and prayers alive , trusting in the infinite merits and mercy , in The Lord ; seems St.Peter knew what fate awaited Sapphira , yet even there , unsure if he would have known what happened to their souls and may be their deaths spared them from furthur evil , which was to afflict the community as well !

  9. Beautifully written. I have had this song playing in my head so much so that I sing it randomly, yes my husband worries about me sometimes. The song and your article are right on. We must humble ourselves to properly serve God. Thank you Msgr. Your article has helped me greatly.

  10. In order to embrace humility we need to cast out fear. Pride is unstable. At the rotten heart of pride is a kind of fear, a paranoia that warns us that we must be constantly vigilant against all challenges to our own self-importance. It is often our response to what we perceive as the self-importance of others that brings out the worst in ourselves. We fear that by embracing humility and resignation, we lose. We will end up with nothing. If only we can come to understand, to truly believe that humility, and only humility can vanquish pride, because this is the most beautiful of truths. But believeing, and living this truth is born of practice and pereverence.

  11. It was all explained to us in 1917 at Fatima, Portugal. “War is a punishment for sin.” ” Pray the rosary to bring peace..” Offer everything undesirable in our lives for the conversion of sinners (humility). Russia will spread it’s errors throughout the world (atheistic materialism). We did not obey (pride), and now, the whole world – in its’ errors – has become as Russia. Just as Israel’s neighbors Iran/Persia, Syria, Egypt, etc., etc.) were sent by God to punish Israel, when it turned to idolatry, the world is now subject to punishment from those same nations and their worldwide (now) islamic satellites. Two of the Fatima prophesies have yet to be fulfilled. “Nations will be annihilated.” (WMDs?) And “In the end, my immaculate heart will triumph and an era of peace will be granted to mankind.” “Fatima is more relevant now than it was in 1917.”…….Pope St. John Paul II.

    1. Well stated Rich. Unfortunately, from this Pope on down to parish priest’s they do not spread the Fatima revelation’s/story. The complete 3rd Secret has been knowingly and willfully suppressed by the Vatican. As Pope Paul 6th once said” the smoke of satan has seeped thru the wall’s of the church”. Go to the Fatima Crusader website for more info. I’m sure part of the undisclosed part deal’s with the coming apostasy within the church, which started with Vatican 2. The Progressive/Liberal’s are attempting to destroy the church from within….like our country. The good news is, “In the end ,my Immaculate Heart WILL triumph”.

  12. Why all these wars around us and the killings that go on endlessly? Our Lady of Fatima gave us the answer.
    She said all wars are the result of sin, which mean if we stop sinning all wars would end. Stop sinning? Whoa there, that’s A TALL ORDER. It’s virtually impossible to stop all sin but we can make A BIG dent in it. Our Lady
    also said that we can make A big dent in it by praying the Rosary and the seer Sr. Lucy said “all problems can be solved,(ALL PROBLEMS) by saying the Rosary”, which means all wars and all killings can be ended with the
    Rosary. So my question to all you Catholics is WHEN ARE YOU GOING START, YES START. We Catholics by
    ourselves alone can solve the world’s problems because we alone have the Rosary. So let’s GET WITH IT,NOW

  13. A message about humility and comments from Americans who seem to imagine, believe, speak as if they are the only inhabitants of the Cosmos. Everywhere you go on the internet it’s Americans and their pathetic politics and culture wars.

    Americans need to learn humility. Give the rest of us some peace from your BS.

  14. God very humbly spoke – when He parted the Red Sea – He did not announce His power or His intention – but He did warn and He did promise – and He did not sit quiet to ensure He “appeared” humble.

  15. Why not pray and fast for this intention? Many miracles happen when we fast. It is said that by fasting we can stop wars!!! One evil we can change is to observe Sunday as a day of rest. Yes, we must start with us , our own observation of God’s laws. We also sin. Judge me if you must, but even Our Lady says the world is in great sin. But that includes us all. Not just those we view as evil. The Muslims think we are an evil people, and so we should not just say we look at evil out side of our self. No we have tempations and our battle is with the powers and principalities and so our best weapon is to fast and pray. Penance, penance, penance. Confess your own sins to lessen the world of the burden of sin. Start with “me, I,”and let God be God and He will solve the evil problem for us. Amen.

  16. The only way EVIL wins is for good men/woman to remain silent and do nothing and I might add not to FIGHT the good fight. Had the Jews and the Christians of the time of Our Lord opposed the evil of the Roman Empire and those crying out loud for His death, maybe Our Lord would not have been crucified. Sadly, He knew this would NOT occur.

  17. If I were a father, and my children were violent, selfish, acting out of anger, or hatred. Do I show them Love, by humbling myself, show mercy, patients, and teach them my wisdom? or get angry and have them fear me, so I can control their behavior? As a father, I’m holding out my arms, accepting my children, by offering forgivness, mercy, and patients. I’m not wanting to force my love on my children. I just want them to learn how to control their free will, as I do.
    The gift of free will comes with a heavy price. Do you think God gifted us with free will, sent us into this world, so we can learn how to handle it? The untimate goal is to learn how to love unconditionally,control our pride,ego and in doing so, we learn how to control freewill, which then allows us to understand our fathers wisdom in gifting us with freedom. The only person I know that was able to control their free will, was Jesus.

    “And in conquering pride by humility He offers mercy to those who will accept it. For even having won, still He does not force His way on us and require us to accept mercy or Heaven. He simply offers them anew and awaits our sovereign answer. Even as the victor His stance is humble (for our pride still needs the remedy of humility, not of overpowering). His hand is extended in mercy. He seeks your reply to His offer of mercy, grace, and truth.”

  18. Jesus humbling himself and taking on human form and then dying for us . . . That’s like you or I humbling ourselved and taking on the form of a maggot and dying for maggots.

  19. What a truly inspiring article. Humility is the key to God’s Mercy

    Really made me think…

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