Humble Pie Served Here     


August 28  

As mothers, we pay attention to the formation of our children’s manners.

Generally, younger children do not choose the worst seat at the table. They must be cajoled to wash, sit down, and not fight over six square inches on a bench that seats six. They watch the plate pass and make comments: “He got the biggest one!” They take the last piece. They take your piece. They’re unrefined and rude, yet raw and honest.  

And while you’re gently correcting, dabbing the baby’s cheeks, and pouring more milk, you hope the grace your family prayed over the food will impart the same as they go into the world: to the school lunchroom, the banquet, their own future Thanksgivings.  

One day, seated at a communal meal with the neighbors, you may hear your son ask an elderly lady, “Would you care for some more butter?” 

The air around you takes on a golden light, and you think of today’s reading: My friend, move up to a higher position. Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.

And you hear Mrs. Cabot answer, “Yes, thank you,” and she then asks your son which of her new kittens he decided on—the white or the striped. 

And the golden light goes away because you see your son now understands that manners can not only make the man, but can also be used to oil the machine.  

You’ve still got work to do! And not because you’ve been bragging.  

False humility lurks in the most innocuous places and can drag us down in the flourishing field of pride we forgot we had:

The one fabulous meal you took the day off to cook and bring to a sick person, only to find out the sickness lingered weeks more, and the person needed more help which you didn’t offer. 

The hours you listened to someone pour out their deepest problems, then felt secretly proud that they’d chosen to confide in you .  

The friendships you may have cultivated for gain, masked by false caring.

Yes, there’s work to be done—with our children’s hearts and with our own!

For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

Yet only with giving ourselves up to Jesus, whose agape love gave to the point of death on the cross, can we begin to conquer our false humility, our desire to be first and best.   

Blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

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