In the Gospel Jesus tells you, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled.” And, then, in the First Ready the Bible tells you, “My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved.”
We all know those sayings, but knowing them doesn’t mean we live by them. St. Francis of Assisi said that at birth he had been given a donkey to train, and through all his years he had never managed to train that donkey; and that donkey was actually his own self-love.
The trouble is that you have much to be proud of. Psalm 139 has you telling God , “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Once I went to the hospital to visit a dumpy old Polish woman who had both knees replaced. Seeing her in a nightgown, bent over in her chair, it occurred to me that she could be well described as being “Gloppy.” But contrary to that, she looked up, and said, “I have been sitting here thinking about how well made our bodies are.”
You don’t need to be a Centerfold to feel contentment, even joy, at the freshness of your childhood memories, at your thoughts of those whom you have loved and of those who have loved you.
But as a Christian, you must constantly remind yourself that everyone around you is as lovable as you are. To be fair to them, you must conduct a perpetual war against seeing yourself as better.
Yesterday morning I gave a homily that went well, and I saw looks of approval on the faces of those in the chapel. Then, going on with the Mass, I kept thinking back on how well I had done. It occurred to me that the people listening to me might go on to compare me favorably with other priests.
So, if you are like me, you will constantly be thinking about yourself favorably. It can’t be helped. The most that God could ask of you is that you love your neighbor as yourself. Like St. Francis, you too have a donkey to try training. You’ll never win, but if you don’t keep disciplining him, he will kick back, knocking over your whole life.
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