February 4, June 5, October 5
Chapter 7: On Humility
The seventh degree of humility
is that he consider himself lower and of less account
than anyone else,
and this not only in verbal protestation
but also with the most heartfelt inner conviction,
humbling himself and saying with the Prophet,
“But I am a worm and no man,
the scorn of men and the outcast of the people” (Ps. 21:7).
“After being exalted, I have been humbled
and covered with confusion” (Pa. 87:16).
“It is good for me that You have humbled me,
that I may learn Your commandments” (Ps. 118:71).
The ideas here are just as unsettling as the ideas yesterday, would you agree? Once again this goes against our modern views regarding self-esteem, sense of self-worth, etc.
Oh the other hand, if more of us did as St. Benedict writes, maybe there would be a whole lot less sense of competition, “Me Firsters” and all that insulting that passes for humor that we see in TV sitcoms.
Something I noticed is that the quotation “I am a worm…” comes from the Psalm variously numbered 21 or 22. The Psalm that begins “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” which are also the words Jesus cried out from the cross. Which in turn reminds me of the kenosis passage in Philippians, where Paul writes about Jesus emptying himself.
Perhaps if we consider that Benedict sees Jesus as the role model for the 7th degree of humility, perhaps it makes the ideas here more understandable. We are who we are and we do what do because God loves us, created us. All human beings are loved by God and created by Him. Therefore we can just get over our fine selves and think about how to look for the face of Jesus in every person.
Perhaps also this passage tells us that one aspect of humility is our own self-identification with the poorest, the sickest, the most cast out of our society.