Today's Reading: Genesis 41-42
In AD 590, Pope Gregory I detailed an ascending list of seven deadly sins: luxuria (extravagance), gula (gluttony), avaritia (avarice/greed), acedia (acedia/discouragement), ira (wrath), invidia (envy) and superbia (pride).
The original and most serious sin, pride, is "a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, excessive love of self and especially holding self out of proper position toward God." Dante's definition, from his poem The Divine Comedy , was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor."
In today's world, we see pride exhibited in two basic ways which seem to be opposites. The first, which is most easily recognized, is arrogance and self absorption. "It's all about me." "My way or the highway." "I did it my way." This kind of pride demands constant attention and limelight.
The second kind of pride is less discernable. We call it "self consciousness." This pride is so focused on self, it is unable to step into areas of discomfort or dis-ease. "O, I couldn't." "I can't do that." "I'd be too embarrassed." Though some might mistake it for "humility," it is really a form of pride.
In today's reading, we see true humility and trust in God, which are the opposite of pride. Joseph, as he is called to share a spiritual gift, makes it very clear from the beginning that he can take no credit for his special talent. The ability to interpret dreams is not about him, but all about God. This acknowledgment is truly the strength of Joseph and others who exhibit humility. Joseph gives credit where credit is due and then boldly exercises his spiritual gift; all in the context of praising God.
This is what we need in the Body of Christ: people who acknowledge that talent, skill, giftedness, influence, grace--anything worthy of praise--is all from God. We cannot lay claim to anything. At the same time, since it is from God and ultimately belongs to God, it is to be shared openly, honestly and freely, without expecting any thanks or praise for the person sharing the gift.
So how do we learn to do this? When we find ourselves with a gift that can change a situation for good, we need to share it. When someone thanks us for sharing it, we need to point them to God "from whom all blessings flow." We can't get upset if the gift is never acknowledged. Instead, Our own hearts should return thanks to God for allowing us to be instruments of grace. We can never claim any blessing as being self generated. Every gift one has is meant for the good of all, not to be hoarded or doled out sparingly. It must never to be used to puff up one's self.
I love Joseph. He shared his gifts with fellow prisoners and his captor alike. Both times, he pointed the receivers to God.
Some simple words I hope to memorize: It is not I, but God!