We Are Not Good Enough

1 Sep

“Perfection is impossible without humility.  Why should I strive for perfection, if I am already good enough?”  ~ Leo Tolstoy

The readings at this weekend’s Masses speak to us about the virtue and importance of humility. Humility is probably one of the least desired virtues among people. We do not want to be humble. We want to be seen, to be noticed, and to be highly influential. To recommend that someone be humble will garner us a really quick stare-down by another.

But, as Tolstoy reminds us, humility is a very basic part of the package called perfection. We cannot possibly become perfect if we think we are already there. If we think we’re the best that there is, then there is no motivation to become any better. Let’s face it, we can all be better.

In the first reading, the Book of Sirach tells us that if we conduct our affairs with humility we will be loved more than a giver of gifts. If we humble ourselves, especially if we are considered as great, God will be pleased with us. That is because, when we are truly humble, we see ourselves as God sees us, as they say, “warts and all.”

There are many people who abhor the thought of a lack of perfection. Plastic surgeons do a thriving business on those kinds of people. Nips and tucks, tweaks and massive reworking are all done in the name of physical perfection. If only we could see our souls the same way that we see ourselves in the mirrors. We would be much more motivated to do something about perfecting them.

We can all do with a spiritual tummy-tuck or facelift. But, the only way that we can see our spiritual imperfections is to have the grace of humility. Being humble, we will see what is lacking within us and we would then be more motivated to change.

Jesus spoke about those who try to promote themselves and who think that they are the most important. A rude awakening awaits them when they find that they are not recognized that way by others. Jesus told his disciples that through the story of the wedding guest who took a place of honor at table thinking that he was deserving only to be told to sit at a much lower place.

The day that we realize that we are not deserving will give us the humility to ask the question, “What must we do in order to do and be better?” That question will lead to answers that require just as much humility in order for us to do what we need to do. Perfection is a difficult task and being perfected by God is most humbling. However, it is worth all the personal cost that it entails since it brings with it an eternal reward.

FAITH ACTION:  Ask God for the gift of humility and then be prepared to act upon the changes that God requests of you.