“Humility, with no extended labors, has saved many,” another elder says. “This is verified by the tax collector and the prodigal son, who were received by God because of the few humble words that they said.”
Humility, it has been said, was the virtue most prized by the Desert Christians. Indeed it seems to be the hallmark of all who have been canonized or otherwise remembered and honored by several denominations.
By “extended labor” the abba means prayers, fasting, acts of contritions and other ascetical practices.
In addition to the tax collector and the prodigal son, I would add the publican whose prayer found more favor with Jesus than that of the Pharisees.
These were all people who knew themselves for what they were. They didn’t pretend to be better or worse than they were, they were merely themselves and God loves them for it.