A few weeks ago, I had the privilege and pleasure of teaching 7th grade at our Summer and Beyond religious education program. One of our lessons was focused on the Beatitudes and we spent a lot of time talking about one specific beatitude: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. We discussed how being meek was a good thing; many of the kids had previously thought it meant being weak or shy. Meek, however, in the context of the Beatitudes is much more closely related to “humble”.
That night for homework, the kids used the Lectio Divina style of prayer to reflect on Matthew 5:3-10 and then wrote a paragraph about which Beatitude resonated the most with them. The following morning, as the kids shared their answers, it became clear that they overwhelmingly related most to “Blessed are the meek”. I was surprised and pleased to hear each of the kids speak about their need to be more or remain humble.
In the Gospel today, Jesus, again, emphasizes the importance of being humble. In the story, He tells a parable meant to caution his listeners about being overly prideful. He says: “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled but the one who humbles himself will be exalted”. Jesus is clear in making his point that it is always better to lower yourself so that others can raise you up than to place yourself above others just to be brought back down.
There is a lot of talk these days about being humble. I’m sure we’ve all heard, at this point, the summer mega hit by Tim McGraw “Humble and Kind”. If you haven’t, here’s one of my favorite lines:
“When those dreams you're dreamin' come to you, When the work you put in is realized, Let yourself feel the pride, But always stay humble and kind”
In a world with so many boastful and selfish messages, constantly in our faces and in the faces of our youth, it is refreshing to see a group of young people really hear and really embrace a positive message of humility and kindness.