By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Back to Humility

Dispute of Jesus and the Pharisees over tribut...Image via Wikipedia
In the view of many, the central life teaching in the Gospels is humility. The apostles insistently make fools of  themselves due to their inability to grasp what Jesus teaches. The bad Pharisees just can't accept the obvious miracles and claim instead that Jesus is casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub. They even try to cleverly entrap him with a question about taxes and end up dumbfounded at Jesus' pointed answer. Even the good Pharisee Nicodemus can't get the point about being "born again" and interprets it as a literal return to the womb. Go through the Gospels and note the points at which Jesus seems just plain exasperated. Here is one of my favorite examples:

14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, [2] and it [3] came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. [4] 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:14-20 (ESV) (emphasis added).

We see the consequences all the time of people ignorant of what they do not know. The leader who just does not see that he or she just can't handle the job. The person who just keeps pursuing the same self-destructive attachments in the same degrading ways. Some call it the "Dunning-Kruger Effect — our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence" (source link). This reality affirms again the wisdom (what is aptly proclaimed in the Greek liturgy as "sophia") of the Gospels. You can read about the Dunning-Kruger Effect in this five-part series of  N.Y. Times blog posts. (Thanks to our Rhode Island link contributor.)

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