What Does It Mean To Be Humble?
Yesterday we buried an elderly woman who had been a life long parishioner here. I really did not know her at all. I knew OF her. What I learned at her funeral yesterday will stay with me for a long time.
But first, what I knew OF her. I first saw her with her brother a few years back when they could still get out of their apartment. They were on the line coming to reverence the cross on Good Friday. I didn't know who they were yet, what I saw was an elderly gentleman leading an older blind woman down the aisle toward the cross. Slowly, with great care, they both venerated our Good Friday Cross. The picture of them in front of the cross was like something off of a holy card. Quite simply, it was beautiful and profound.
I learned after that who they were, our neighbors across the street, but I still never had a cause to visit them. Others did so and would tell me about how hard it was getting for them to stay in a walk up apartment, but how they wanted to keep their independence.
On one occasion I answered the phone here at the parish and it was her on the other end. When she found out who I was on my end of the phone she told me how happy she was to talk with me. While we had never met, she said she was hearing from others and seeing in the bulletin all the activities that were happening here in the parish and wishing me God's blessings on my ministry. She was so very encouraging.
And so yesterday we commended her soul to God. Her brother had gone before her, can't be more than a year ago. The family gathered to pray our final prayers for her and to remember her. Her nephew spoke of what a beloved aunt she was to them all. How she was always encouraging them in their endeavors and challenging them to be, in his words, the best version of themselves. They miss her already.
This woman lived a simple life with great humility, and her family is different because of her. They will in turn, live their lives in such way as to make her proud of them, and make their part of the world a bit better. Her life like a pebble thrown into the water, will spread ripples of goodness for years to come. Though she may know nothing about it.
As Christians, this is the life we are called to. Some people will do great things and receive accolades for their work. Most of us will not. We trudge through our every day and try to do our best. Our reward is the satisfaction of a job well done. A life well lived. Jesus says, if we want to be first, we must be last. That doesn't mean putting ourselves down, it means knowing who we are, where we are, and whose we are! It means if I know I belong to God, at the end of the day, that is more than enough.
I wish I had gotten to know Kitty while she was here among us. I am sorry I didn't take the time. I know that I hope I live my life as well as she did. I want others to know I care about them and encourage them to be their best selves. I am grateful for every evening when I can put my head on the pillow and know the satisfaction, the blessing of having tried my best for the coming of the kingdom. For the days when I fall short, I'm grateful for the opportunity to try and do better tomorrow.
St Vincent de Paul claimed humility as one the three virtues he strove for. As I have always admired his story of conversion and his heart for the poor, humility is something I value as well. Not an easy virtue to cultivate in a world that is always telling us we are the most important person in the universe.
So I am always grateful to know where my center is, and who I belong to. What about you, who do you belong to?