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6 July 2014
posted by Canon Dakin on 10-07-2014

We are presently going through the gospel of Matthew. Each week the reading from the Old Testament is chosen to match. Today a word the two readings have in common is ‘humble’.  Charles Dickens gave humility a poor image. ‘I’m a very humble man, Mr. Copperfield’, said Uriah Heap. He was a creep.  Gardeners are familiar with the word ‘humus’. Humility means ‘down to earth’, realist. It seems that humility is not in fashion. Self-esteem became a watchword in the 1960s and a generation has been formed to regard itself as special. Schools have been invaded by the idea that all must be winners, there must be no losers and all competition is to be discouraged. When children play party games the result is engineered so that every child receives a prize.

The theory was that if you had poor self-esteem you wouldn’t bother to try. But if consistently you tell a child that he or she is marvellous they will think they don’t need to try or they will try too hard in order to maintain what they believe is their natural place - at the top - with subsequent unhappiness when reality catches up with them.

It is all so unnecessary. Self-esteem ought not to depend on continuously notching up success.  Who am I? What am I for? What is my worth?  Ultimately these questions are resolved only by revelation. I am a child of God, raised to share the place of Jesus in the love of his Father.  What am I for? I am to spread this love among my brothers and sisters.  And here there is a need for realism or humility. Self is a natural obstacle. To overcome it we need the support of God; we need a divine energy. Holy Communion is the sacrament or sign of this need and the strength which God makes available. The condition is our humility - our honest acceptance of our dependence on God to do good.

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