Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble
When you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror
Cause 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. – Mac Davis
Six months or so ago, I wrote a blog post entitled Humble and Kind, inspired by the poignant song sung by country artist Tim McGraw. If you read this blog post, you know that my parents instilled the importance of humility in all of their kids.
You’re no better than anyone else, and no one else is better than you I heard my mother say on many occasions. I think this message really took hold in all of us.
Since the theme of last weekend’s Mass readings was humility, I thought about all of this once again as I listened to Jesus’ story about the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee bragged about what an exceptional person he was. He tithed. He fasted. He wasn’t greedy and unholy in the ways of many others. At the same time, the tax collector beat his breast and begged for God’s forgiveness for all of his sins. I am not worthy, he said.
Yep, I thought. I have lots of faults, but I’m certainly not like that nasty Pharisee. I am really tremendously humble.
And then I saw the irony in that notion. I’m prideful of just how humble I am. Oops. Disconnect.
Because the reality is that though on an intellectual level, I know I’m no better than anyone else, on a practical level, I hold my breath as I walk past a clearly unbathed homeless person, I look at distain at young people with huge holes in their ears, I hang on to old grievances, I gossip, and I judge people if I think they aren’t living the kind of life I think they should be living.
So am I really all that humble? Certainly not as humble as I’ve always thought I was, or so it appears. To be really humble, you have to let go of yourself and feel perfectly safe putting yourself into the hands of God. And that’s easier to say than to do. It always feels safer to control your own life. And that might work well as long as things are going along just like you want. But when the time comes that things seem to be heading south, that is when it is most important to put yourself in the hands of God. To be truly humble.
In Jesus’ parable, the tax collector would not even raise his eyes to heaven, but instead begged for God’s mercy. The result? Jesus tells us that the tax collector is the one who went home justified, while the Pharisee did not.
For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
Please God, forgive me for all of my sins and help me to be truly humble.