Daily Reflection
August 26th, 2006

Eileen Wirth

Journalism Department
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Ezekiel 43:1-7ab
Psalm 85:9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14
Matthew 23:1-12

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

As I handed back my first ever set of news reporting assignments at Creighton years ago, I told a student to see me after class, plainly terrifying her. Nervously she approached me. “What did I do wrong?”

“I just wanted to ask you, Monika, if anyone had ever told you that you have a special gift for writing? It’s obvious from this assignment. It’s the kind of gift that God gives you and no one can teach. From now on, I will work with you to help you develop this special gift.”

Monika left the classroom stunned. She was from an immigrant Paraguayan family and her mother didn’t even speak English. There were no other writers in her family and her high school teachers wouldn’t have recognized how unusual her raw talent was.

She told me later that our conversation changed her life. She became a prize- winning reporter in Florida and now is doing some teaching (I think) as she raises her family. The incident taught me to always try to identify and point out gifts and talents to students – especially to those who have no clue that something they do well IS a gift or talent.

I think of all this as I reflect on the quote from Matthew about humility. It’s actually one of my favorite passages in Scripture. It doesn’t mean denying our gifts. You can’t use a gift to serve others if you don’t acknowledge that you have it.

It means recognizing that we are the fortunate recipients of God’s goodness and giving back in gratitude rather pretending that we were responsible for being lucky.

My brother has a gift for Spanish and has used it to teach the children of California farm workers to read in both Spanish and English. The mother of my best friend in high school used her gift for baking apple pies to raise funds for the band at our Catholic school. My colleague, Don Doll S.J., uses his extraordinary gift for photography to celebrate Native American culture and to fight for the abolition of land mines.

As St. Paul says, there are gifts of many kinds. Everyone has something. It’s not boasting to recognize our gifts; thank God for them and view them as an opportunity and obligation to serve the community. If we do this, the humbling and exalting will take care of themselves.

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