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Literally Humble

As most of my friends know, I am in the process of getting my MA in Pastoral Studies from Loyola Chicago. I read a book earlier entitled The Call to Discernment by Dean Brackley. If you take it to heart, it will shake you up! It talks of how the American economic system has created a hierarchy of status based on wealth. Status symbols have become our standards for determining self-worth. This comparison, what is in reality competition, causes us to look down on those at a lower rung while holding in contempt and envy those who hold a higher rung. His issue was not that there are those who have the God-given talents to increase wealth but that somehow in creating this wealth, they think themselves superior. He also has issue with those who are less wealthy who have bought into the societal norms and somehow feel they are less than. In either case, we dishonor God because He has made us all and we are all equal – equal in depravity and equal in the grace of His love and forgiveness.

This morning I was pondering over the three types of humility as defined by Saint Ignatius. For those unfamiliar with Saint Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, I will give you a brief intro into his understanding of humility. It is important to know that each of these three types of humility builds on the previous humility.

1. Person of the Law – This person is totally committed to keeping the externals of being a Christian. For instance, making sure they are in church every Sunday, that no curse words cross their lips, you know the external.
2. The seconde humility gets to a point in life that they neither desire riches nor wealth, fame nor disgrace, health nor sickness, long-life nor short. Their only desire is for whatever brings the most praise, reverence, and service to Jesus and/or whatever builds them the most in their faith, hope and love.
3. The third humility is to actually desire poverty over riches, shame and disgrace over fame and honor.

As I was thinking about this, I remembered a conversation about the Genesis creation story. I happened to state that I had changed my view on the Genesis creation story. I wasn’t really sure that is the way it happened and that it might be more allegorical to teach Spiritual truths. Wow! Did I catch it! I was wondering though does he takes the following passage found in Mark 10 as literally as he does the Genesis story?

“As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.'” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”

Most times I hear others speak about this passage, they tend to talk that it really didn’t mean to sell all your possessions but just to love Jesus more than the possessions. It is an allegory. Is that why the apostles got up and walked away from everything to follow Jesus? I guess in my own mind, I have settled on taking the passage in Mark more literally than the one in Genesis.


Written by John Hannah

October 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

One Response

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  1. John, you have asked a very thought provoking question that I really think none of us really want to answer. When I read this passage, I think of people I have known that have chosen to give up careers and move their families to developing countries as missionaries. Living in a “bible belt community” it’s easy to call yourself a Christian, go to church regularly, put a fish on the back of your car or in an ad promoting your business, etc. I think most of us give to charities, but only a small fraction of our incomes because of our own fears of loss. If most of us were honest, we would admit that we seek status in society and financial security in the secular world because they are tangible when the celestial world can only be seen through pure faith. It is a blessing to endure hardship on this earth, because it is the only conduit through which we “let go and let God” take the reins of our lives to fulfill His purpose. Honestly, I cannot say that I am there yet, but on the path of discovery. Thank you for making me take a moment and really think about what God’s plans are in my life and how it affects other people!

    Paula Haider

    October 18, 2010 at 12:50 am

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