Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
“…whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
As we continue our preparations for the Resurrection of our Lord, we must ask ourselves how we might humble ourselves to better accept and receive the unconditional love of God. This ideal—of humbling ourselves before God and others—is radically counter-cultural in that we are all told to strive for greatness and are socialized to work towards achieving wealth and sufficient influence in the world. We as a society glorify those with fortune and those with fame, yet it requires a great deal more strength and courage to be humble than to be proud.
We, as humans, are all inherently imperfect. This is not something that should be hidden or pushed aside with shame; this reality is what makes us wonderfully human, and uniquely so. We all make mistakes, and we all have shortcomings. Tomorrow, Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down from his holy office, in an embodiment of humility and an authentic acknowledgement of his own limitations and frailties. This decision must have taken great strength, and hopefully Pope Benedict’s self-awareness and humility can be a model for us all in this nearly unprecedented public display of voluntary downward mobility.
Even Jeremiah, in the first reading, has a tinge of pride, as he feels entitled to the preservation of his life in exchange for having spoken on behalf of those now threatening his life. I myself have often felt owed something for the good deeds I have performed in my life, as if I had somehow collected enough points to earn my ticket into Heaven—like frequent flyer miles. It is not through any merit of my own that I am saved, but it is through God’s unimaginable love and kindness. Whenever I find myself falling into this fallacy of entitlement, I try to remember that Jesus himself, our Lord and Savior, came not as a typical king with crown in hand, but as a lowly carpenter who took every opportunity to humble himself in service of others. Jesus Christ demonstrated for us the model of humility as he humbled himself in front of all whom he encountered expecting nothing in return, and who are we to disagree with Christ? Flying in the face of societal norms of self-centeredness and self-interested egoism, we can remember the more humble approach demonstrated in the responsorial psalm, as we resign ourselves to the Lord saying “into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Truly I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the Word and my soul shall be healed.
David Gaillardetz is a senior in the School of Education and Public Service.