The perils of exhibiting an arrogant superiority complex are captured in the readings from Job and today's Gospel from Luke. Upon initial read I struggled to find a connection between these two passages, but after careful reflection it finally dawned on me. Satan’s challenge for God to test Job’s faith and the insatiable desire of the disciples of Jesus to be ranked on personal greatness are two powerful examples of how the abuse of “ego” can easily divert one’s focus on God and his love.
The story of Job has been repeated thousands of times in the past, but taking a different approach and interpreting the message from Satan’s perspective provides a new opportunity to shed light on another aspect of human nature. Job’s faith and devotion to God speak for themselves, but Satan’s blatant abuse of ego deserves attention. Satan accompanied the angels of the Lord with specific intent to place a challenge before the hands of God. His own ego could not bear witness to Job’s relentless faith to the Lord so he eagerly accepted God’s offer and exerted his devious will to bring Job harm, especially to his family and personal possessions. The result was treacherous but in the end Job ultimately won God’s favor and thus defeated the misguided ego of Satan.
In the Gospel of Luke we find the disciples of Jesus, out of sheer stubbornness to exert their own egos of self-gratification, also putting the Lord to test by questioning who is the greatest among them. As the story unfolds, we quickly learn that in the eyes of God personal humility is held to a much greater value than actively seeking public self-recognition and acclaim. In today’s world, humility of this nature seems highly impossible given the perpetual attention by TV and news media to endlessly advertise temporal gimmicks which promise to enhance personal appearances, wealth, and self-gratifying luxuries. But where should our loyalties lie … in the eyes of humans, or in the message of faith and devotion as experienced by Job, and vividly expressed by Jesus in his reaction to the disciples?
Here in North America, the month of October signifies the beginning of fall and the nearing of the holiday season. This means we all should take time to reflect on our own place in humanity. There is no need to rank order ourselves on levels of greatness, but rather we should constantly pray for the well-being of others, and share our gifts with those we find in need. In short, that is the humility God asks each of us to express as a reflection of his love.