Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Respect and Humility-Attending our Relationships

In our intensely fast-paced, technologically driven world, we can often overlook the people in our lives and our need for relationships. Work becomes all encompassing and life seems to be passing us by at greater and greater speeds. It is too easy to forget what is really important in life—relationships—with God, family and friends. Friendship and family relationships take time to nourish, develop and sustain. And, unfortunately, they can be too easily taken for granted. I know I have done this at various intervals in my life. Now I wonder what drove me to be so intense about tasks and less about people and my relationships with God and others. I believe it takes humility to see oneself for who one really is, to understand one’s place in the world and the purpose of life.

Jesus says, in Luke’s Gospel, that those who "exalt themselves will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."  Too often we can point the finger at someone else to say they are arrogant or prideful, but forget to look at ourselves. How do we live this gospel maxim?

(photo courtesy of Warner Bros.; www.theinternmovie.com)
I think of the movie, The Intern, with Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway, in which a young internet startup founder, Jules Ostin (Hathaway), is forced by her board to have a Senior Intern program at her company. When retiree Ben Whittaker (DeNiro) comes to be her full-time intern assistant she and other 20 and 30-somethings question whether Whittaker knows anything about running an online fashion startup. In great humility, Ben is there to learn, to be of assistance wherever necessary. Even though he is called “old-fashioned” or “vintage” for wearing a suit to work in the very casual atmosphere, he goes about with quiet confidence that what he knows is not useless, that his experience is valuable and his worth is not in doing many things, but in the relationships he develops. He offers a wealth of wisdom through his humble presence. In the end, he becomes everybody’s mentor, support and friend. He puts the focus where it should be—on people.

Sometimes in life, it takes time to grow in wisdom, to see things in light of the greater good other than one’s own. Humility allows us to rejoice with those who are doing great things and to suffer with those who are struggling. Humility is about placing our life focus more on relationships, on the people with whom we live, on friendships and acquaintances, rather than on building extensive careers, amassing wealth or gaining recognition.

Ben Whittaker was a great reminder to a younger generation that those who have gone ahead of us are not “out-of-date” but are rather people full of wisdom and a desire to teach, guide and mentor. It is a reminder that working at and building up relationships is crucial to our lives as authentic human beings. Most especially this is true in our relationship with our Creator, Lover, Father and Friend. Spending time with those we love is the best gift we can give them. It is perhaps the only thing we can give that truly matters. For sharing our life in humility and love is what gives joy, hope and consolation to all the people in our lives. This is what the writer of Sirach means, where he says, “conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts” (Sir. 3:17).


Sr. Nancy is a Media Literacy Education Specialist and Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies, Culver City, CA. She is a member of the Daughters of St. Paul and has degrees in Communications Arts and Theology and Arts. She has extensive experience in the creative aspects of social media, print media production, radio and video production as well as in marketing, advertising, retail management and media administration. For over 20 years, Sr. Nancy has given numerous media literacy workshops, presentations and media retreats around the country. She is a member of NAMLE (National Association for Media Literacy Education), SIGNIS (World Catholic Association for Communication), and a contributing theologian at THEOCOM (Theology and Communications in Dialogue). She is present on Twitter @snancy, Snapchat, Facebook, Vine, Instagram and www.bemediamindful.org. She is a contributing writer to the Fuller Theological Brehm Center’s Reel Spirituality website: http://www.brehmcenter.com/initiatives/reelspirituality/film/articles/ . 


Christine Dufresne said...

This article really hit home and helped me reevaluate what, or rather who, is really important in life. Thank you Sr Nancy.

Easter Almuena said...

Sr. Nancy, I'm thinking of last Sunday's gospel. So appropriate! Thank you.

Maryann Toth said...

Thank you, Sr Nancy, for this excellent article and reminder about the importance of our relationships. It also hit home for me. God bless you.

Sr Nancy said...

Thanks, Christine!

Sr Nancy said...

God bless you, Easter!

Sr Nancy said...

So appreciate your words. God bless, Maryann!