Grace to you!
I continue our Lenten reflection this year centered on virtuous life. Today, I look at the blessings of humility regarding moderation.
A business owner invited a renowned successful business consultant to help retool his business. He wanted to find out what to do better for a competitive advantage.
After diagnosing his business, its employees, products and processes, the consultant found that one of the major problems was with his leadership. So, the consultant asked him to reconsider his leadership, and adapt a more efficient style.
This wasn’t what he wanted to hear. Reality was that he already had in mind what he wanted to do. His ego was strong about it. He simply needed external consultants to come endorse his viewpoint and weak plan.
You may have encountered people who seek for your honest feedback. You give it. When it isn’t what they want to hear, they get defensive. Or they avoid you. We may have been those people at some point or another in our lives. We want to be better at what we do. Yet when the moment of truth comes, we reject it. We feel we are okay the way we are.
One of the problems in these situations is lack of humble disposition. Our ego is strong. Its’s difficult for us sometimes to put it in check.
Humility is a virtue. It isn’t a vice as many see it today. It isn’t about allowing ourselves to be put down. It isn’t lack of ambition either. Rather it is moderating our ego-drive, so it doesn’t push us off the cliff.
No one learns new things if they didn’t approach it from the position of “I want to learn.” No one improves in their personal, social, business or spiritual life without a humble disposition.
We want to be the best we can. We desire the best for ourselves. But we want to do so without falling prey to excessive ambition or desire that could lead us to where we don’t want to be. We need humility to hold back and know our limitations. We need modesty. Saint Thomas Aquinas says humility is a sub-set of the virtue of modesty which is a part of the virtue of temperance (self-control) (STh., II-II q.161 a.4). This is because, for him, humility is a moderation of our spirit (ibid).
The Gospel of Luke 18:9-14 reports a parable the Lord shared with the listeners. It is about the contrast between two people who went to pray. One was too full of himself. He wasn’t modest. He couldn’t put his ego in check. He tells God about how perfect and good he was. He points accusing fingers on others. The second person recognizes how weak and imperfect he was. He was unassuming. He acknowledged he wasn’t perfect. He asked God for grace and mercy. He received divine blessing and approval. The first didn’t.
During these weeks of Lent, may we intentionally work with God’s grace to be unassuming. We want to be great. We want to be first. Yet we have to do so realizing that the way up to glory is to acknowledge our unworthiness. No one is perfect. We need God. We need one another. We need to be humble.
Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Saturday, Lent, Week 3, March 5, 2016; Hosea 6:1-6; Luke 18:9-14]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections for the season of Lent your individual spiritual edification. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations. .