Embracing the difficult
In the Gospel, our Lord seems to be a little like Martha Stewart, giving advice about where one should sit at a party.
In the first reading, St. Paul seems to be a little like Hamlet, contemplating whether it is better for him to go on living or to die.
(Actually, St. Paul is also a little like Martha Stewart: he’s writing from prison. [May God bless her])
Life is not a good thing for St. Paul at the moment he is writing: it is full of suffering, degradation, rejection, and ridicule.
Yet St. Paul embraces life, with all of its suffering and disappointments, because he knows it is what Christ wants: to use the gift of life and all the gifts he has received to help bring closer to Christ everyone he can.
So too our Lord urges us to embrace humility, as difficult as it may be for us in a world where “blowing your own horn” and “looking out for number one” are the name of the game.
Why do this? Why embrace the difficult or something that is not good for us? Because, ultimately, we are not number one, we cannot attain perfect happiness by our own power alone, we need God, and we need to make that truth thoroughly manifest in our lives.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.