From this Sunday’s readings, this song came to mind:
Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble
when you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror
‘cos I get better looking each day
to know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man.
O Lord it’s hard to be humble
but I’m doing the best that I can.
(It’s Hard To Be Humble, Mac Davis)
When we hear the Beatitudes, it may occur to us to question whether or not they truly apply to us. Not many of us are truly poor, we find ourselves mourning only rarely and are usually more bold than meek.
Nonetheless, it is clear that the Beatitudes are not just meant for a few – they are meant for all. We know this because of the promises that are appended to each: “theirs is the kingdom of heaven:, “they will inherit the land”, “they will see God”. These are gifts we all hope for, that speak to our deepest desires – that we are meant for. And in fact the Beatitudes are a roadmap – a guide to being human. Eight simple phrases that not only show the way, but show us how to be.
Paul invites us to consider our calling. And the easy consideration is the individual fulfillment of our vocation. But as those created in the image of God, there is a common core to our calling, to our being: humility. We are told that we are a remnant of people who are humble and lowly, who take refuge in the name of the Lord – and that when we boast, we boast only in the Lord.
In this light, we may see our roles more clearly: as the poor in spirit, freely accepting suffering. As those who mourn the brokenness of the world, as the meek who willing submit to the will of God – and sometimes even man, as those who hunger for perfection, as those who offer corporal and spiritual acts of mercy, as those whose hearts are clean in order to carry the Spirit of God, as those whose lives are given to restore peace – not only between men, but between God & man, as those who accept persecution.
Jesus does not just tell us about being human – He shows us. And we need help to follow His example, because (and let’s face it) we’re no good at humility.
Consider this: what would it mean for you to go a week without drawing attention to yourself? Without showing off? Without needing to be the center of attention – or even trying to be liked? What if you were to strip from your vocabulary for one week the words ‘I’ and ‘me’, save for those times to say ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m sorry’? What might that change in your life, in your relationships, in your humility before God?
Christ’s perfect self-offering is given to us freely, in His life, in His Passion and in the Eucharist we celebrate each Sunday. And if we are willing to receive this gift, we can offer no less of ourselves. God’s work will only come through us if we allow it – and to allow it, we must remove our own ego, so that His glory may shine through.