Friday, October 05, 2007

Reading for Feb 4, June 5, Oct 5

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 4, June 5, October 5
Chapter 7: On Humility

The seventh degree of humility
is that he consider himself lower and of less account
than anyone else,
and this not only in verbal protestation
but also with the most heartfelt inner conviction,
humbling himself and saying with the Prophet,
"But I am a worm and no man,
the scorn of men and the outcast of the people" (Ps. 21:7).
"After being exalted, I have been humbled
and covered with confusion" (Pa. 87:16).
And again,
"It is good for me that You have humbled me,
that I may learn Your commandments" (Ps. 118:71).

Some thoughts:

The ideas here are just as unsettling as the ideas yesterday, would you agree? Once again this goes against our modern views regarding self-esteem, sense of self-worth, etc.

Oh the other hand, if more of us did as St. Benedict writes, maybe there would be a whole lot less sense of competition, "Me Firsters" and all that insulting that passes for humor that we see in TV sitcoms.

Something I noticed is that the quotation "I am a worm..." comes from the Psalm variously numbered 21 or 22. The Psalm that begins "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me" which are also the words Jesus cried out from the cross. Which in turn reminds me of the kenosis passage in Phillipians, where Paul writes about Jesus emptying himself.

Perhaps if we consider that Benedict sees Jesus as the role model for the 7th degree of humility, perhaps it makes the ideas here more understandable. We are who we are and we do what do because God loves us, created us. All human beings are loved by God and created by Him. Therefore we can just get over our fine selves and think about how to look for the face of Jesus in every person.

Perhaps also this passage tells us that one aspect of humility is our own self-identification with the poorest, the sickest, the most cast out of our society.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

At one stage of life, the temptation is to think that no human being alive could ever really believe themselves to be "inferior to all and of less value." At a later stage in life you begin to understand that secretly everybody thinks exactly that and that's why we deny it with such angst to ourselves and such unfairness to others. We set out systematically to hide the truth of it by clutching at money and degrees and positions and power and exhaust ourselves in the attempt to look better than we fear we really are.

The only difference between that stage of life and this degree of humility is that in the seventh degree of humility Benedict wants us to realize that accepting our essential smallness and embracing it frees us from the need to lie, even to ourselves, about our frailties. More than that, it liberates us to respect, revere and deal gently with others who have been unfortunate enough to have their own smallnesses come obscenely to light.

Aware of our own meager virtues, conscious of our own massive failures despite all our great efforts, all our fine desires, we have in this degree of humility, this acceptance of ourselves, the chance to understand the failures of others. We have here the opportunity to become kind.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home