|Madonna of Humility - Masaccio|
It is with assumptions like these in mind that Paul acknowledges just how 'foolish' the Christian Gospel can sound. He reminds the Christians at Corinth that 'God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God'. Most of the people he was addressing were poor and socially insignificant, and for them this implies encouragement. 'Consider your own call, brothers and sisters', Paul says: 'not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong'.
|Sermon on the Mount - James Tissot|
It is a fact of experience that poverty can brutalize as well as liberate. It is thus possible for prosperity to be a blessing -- but only insofar as it enables the the well-to-do to care about justice and to act in kindlier ways more easily than people bowed down by poverty, illness or grief. Far greater difficulty lies in 'walking humbly', which is to say, giving up on pride. Yet as the verses from Psalm 15 make plain, humility is key to dwelling on God's holy hill.