From the very beginning of my schooling, I can remember the constant encouragement of my family to do better – to strive for the highest goals. I’m sure we can all remember being lectured about the importance of getting good grades, reading at a higher level, the absolute necessity in life for multiplication tables, etc. This led to being told how important it is to go to college, to do well in school, to graduate with a high GPA – with honors – magna-summa cum laude – I’m sure many of us have heard all this before, or are hearing it right now. These achievements are indeed important – they lead to us getting good jobs or moving on to higher learning. Without these accolades it would be difficult for us to achieve our goals.
Today, many of us are in an environment where we feel like we need to constantly achieve more – to gain notoriety, a high social status, or a promotion at work. While it’s always fine to strive for something, it is important to remember that it’s not all about being noticed – or being the best. There is so much more to life than trying to get to the top of the heap.
In today’s Gospel, the disciples asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” (MT 18:1) Jesus presents the disciples with a child, instructing them that unless they become like the children, they will never enter the Kingdom. Jesus furthermore says, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (MT 18:4) We are tasked to remember that being humble is an essential part of life. We shouldn’t be boastful or prideful when we succeed, we should be grateful for the opportunity to make a difference and help others.
We should take a cue from our Holy Father, who has made the choice to actively be as humble as he can in word, deed, and action – even though it is not required of him. When we can, we should always choose to be humble, to allow others to go before ourselves, and to remember that if we want to enter the Kingdom we should think back to our childhood – where we were always looking up and not looking down.
Chris Pierno is the Media & Marketing Manager for the Catholic Apostolate Center