The Houston Astros won the World Series the other night. Maria and I stayed up late to watch because we have become Astros fans. Maria's favorite is Jose Altuve. He is one of the shortest players in the game but has become one of the best players in all of baseball. My favorite is George Springer who, like Altuve, plays with a childlike joy. Watching these guys celebrate their victory made us a smile, especially in light of the devastation that the people of Houston have endured. We see a lot of self-promotion and attention grabbing in the sports world so it was nice to see these men humbly pointing to the people of Houston as their motivation to win. Check out an opposite motivation in this week's Gospel.
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.' As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:1-12
Jesus singles out the scribes and Pharisees for their attention grabbing behaviors. Jesus points to the many things they do to honor themselves, particularly in public. Using them as examples of what not to do, Jesus teaches that humble service is the way to go.
It is easy to see a lack of humility in people. We don't need to look far in our media saturated world. But the real question is, are we humble? As someone who is in front of audiences frequently, I know how hard it is to not draw attention to myself. I believe the answer lies in what motivates us. Are we motivated by our love for God? It takes a lot of work to get to the core of our motivations, even as we serve. Humility is hard earned and it doesn't come easily. True humility comes from a profound motivation to pursue God and live for His purposes.
The Houston Astros are World Champions, for the first time in their history. They achieved this through years of hard work. Finding a purpose greater than themselves and their baseball team allowed them to bring joy to many hurting people. That is what true humility does.