Isaac of Syria on Humility

isaac_of_syriaFrom Met. Hilarion Alfeyev”s The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian:

To speak of humility (mukkaka or makkikuta) meant to Isaac to speak of God, for God in his vision is primarily the One who is ‘meek and lowly in heart’. God’s humility was revealed to the world in the Incarnation of the Word. In the Old Testament, God remained invisible to and unattainable by everyone approaching him. But when he clothed himself in humility and hid his glory under human flesh, he became both visible and attainable:

Humility is the raiment of the Godhead. The Word who became human clothed himself in it, and he spoke to us in our body. Everyone who has been clothed with humility has truly been made like unto Him who came down from his own exaltedness and hid the splendor of his majesty and concealed his glory with humility, lest creation be utterly consumed by the contemplation of him.

Every Christian is called to imitate Christ in humility. In acquiring humility, a person becomes like the Lord and clothes himself in Christ:

Wherefore every man has put on christ when he is clothed with the raiment wherein the Creator was seen through the body that he put on. For the likeness in which he was seen by his own creation and in which he kept company with it, he willed to put on in his inner man, and to be seen therein by his fellow servants.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.



5 responses to “Isaac of Syria on Humility”

  1. Robert F Avatar
    Robert F

    This great self emptying of Himself is so difficult for us, as it is contrary to sin. Sin is the very opposite of humility and of selflessness. It is nothing short of a miracle to be able (and willing) to clothe ourselves with humility. And yet this is the only path to life, to our salvation. Glory be to God who gave Himself for us!

  2. Karen Avatar

    Dear Father, bless! Here is an added thought on humility that I excerpted for myself from an article I found online discussing the Desert Fathers sayings and gospel admonitions against judgment of others.

    From an article by William Skudlarek, O.S.B. on Judging others:

    One of the most categorical sayings regarding the necessity of avoiding judgment comes from Abba Moses: “The Monk must die to his neighbour and never judge him at all, in any way whatever.”

    In the end, not judging means “Dying to the neighbor,” that is, letting go of every attempt to evaluate others and even oneself in relation to some abstract, external norm or rule. Such an attitude does not imply that there is no need for conversion and transformation, or perhaps even, at times, the forceful restraint of behavior that is harmful or destructive. It recognizes, however, that interior and lasting change does not come about by trying to conform oneself or others to some external norm. True conversion is only brought about through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit of God (this is how I, as a Christian, would name the power), and that power can only operate in us when we let go of all pretensions and accept ourselves and others as we and they are. Such truthful acceptance is what the Christian monastic tradition refers to as “humility.”

  3. Marsha Avatar


    that is very helpful. And almost impossible to understand, at the same time. Thanks for the quote, though.

  4. Karen Avatar

    Marsha, yes, that expression to “die to one’s neighbor” is especially obscure to me, too. What I do understand better is that “truthful acceptance” of oneself and of others as the hallmark of Christian humility.

  5. Mari Avatar

    Amazing to know that God took on human flesh , that He clothed Himself in humility for us. That defies comprehension. Just wow! Thanks for this info, life changing.

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