Friday, June 19, 2015

“Bravado may stir the crowd, but courage needs no audience.”

True humility consists in being content with all that God is pleased to ordain for us, believing ourselves unworthy to be called His servants. -- St. Teresa of Jesus (1515 – 1582: Spanish Carmelite nun & Doctor of the Church)

Scripture Text: (2 COR 11:18, 21-30)
Brothers and sisters:
Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast.
To my shame I say that we were too weak!

But what anyone dares to boast of
(I am speaking in foolishness)
I also dare.
Are they Hebrews? So am I.
Are they children of Israel? So am I.
Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.
Are they ministers of Christ?
(I am talking like an insane person).
I am still more, with far greater labors,
far more imprisonments, far worse beatings,
and numerous brushes with death.
Five times at the hands of the Jews
I received forty lashes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned,
three times I was shipwrecked,
I passed a night and a day on the deep;
on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers,
dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race,
dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city,
dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea,
dangers among false brothers;
in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights,
through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings,
through cold and exposure.
And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me
of my anxiety for all the churches.
Who is weak, and I am not weak?
Who is led to sin, and I am not indignant?

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

The Word of God for today’s Mass invites us to take a long look at our true self. St. Paul invites us to do this when he “boasts” about what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

I learned about boasting in grade school. By the time I got to seventh grade, there were cliques that followed the social makeup of the city. There were the athletes who boasted about their accomplishments in sports. There were the nice-looking girls who were the popular ones of the school. There were the sons and daughters of the important people of the community, the children of the mayor, the doctors and business community. There were the smart ones, who “aced” every exam and were the “teacher’s pets.”

There was a lot of boasting going around when we were just “hanging out.” No one had to teach us how to boast. We also learned the competitive art of boasting: my accomplishment is better than your accomplishment. It was then that I discovered that life was never going to be simple. If you were going to get ahead in this world, you needed to learn how to boast.

The reason why the following of Jesus is counter cultural is because it is. David Brooks, a well-known columnist, wrote a book entitled, “The Road to Character.” In it, he talks about the men and women who have left their mark on civilization, and how they mastered the tendency to boast and thus discover where their heart was. They learned to value what was truly of value.

Our Scripture readings for today Mass helps us to take a serious look at our inner self. We are invited to learn the difference between boasting and our true self. We can love ourselves only because God first loved us. We love the other, the friend and the enemy, because God loves them as well. No matter how important we are, or how intelligent we are, or how well-off we are, we will someday come to realize that it is God who gives us our worth.

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