Monday, November 19, 2012

Humility, Mincemeat, and Metanoia

Jesus once told a story about two men. One was a Pharisee, super religious and full of knowledge of the law. He thought he had it figured out. His pride had blinded him to the need to repent, to recognize where he stood in relation to the God who loves him. 

The other character in Jesus' story is a tax collector. He was humble and knew where he stood in the sight of God and that a decision needed to be made. Humility is the first step toward metanoia, the transformation of your mind, your heart, and your soul. Humility is the truest form of self-awareness. Pride blinds your judgement, while humility opens your eyes.

To repent signifies far more than self-pity or futile regret over things done in the past. The Greek term metanoia means “change of mind.” To repent is to be renewed, to be transformed in our inward viewpoint, to attain a fresh way of looking at our relationship with God and with others. The fault of the Pharisee is that he has no desire to change his outlook; he is complacent, self-satisfied, and so he allows no place for God to act within him. The Gospel depicts him as a man that is pleased only with himself who thinks that he has complied with all of the requirements of religion. But in his pride, he has lost the meaning of true religion and faith.

Humility is cultivated like a garden in the souls of the faithful You can't ask someone to do this for you. You can't become full when someone else eats your sandwich. In the Buddhist tradition, the emphasis on humility is to gain proper understanding of yourself and the world around you. Humility liberates you from fase perceptions about the world around you and the intentions of others. I think that is important as we seek to understand our place in the world. As missiles are sent from Israel to Palestine, and vice versa, we all need to better understand the need for humility, self-awareness, and peace. Humility is working for peace and harmony and the inability to live peacefully is a sign of pride, sin, and separation from the will of God for all men to live in harmonious communion.

In April of 1943, a body washed up on the southwestern coast of Spain. This body was dressed in the uniform of a British Marine and his ID said his name was William Martin. Attached to his waist was a briefcase containing several official-looking documents. Spain was a neutral country in World War 2, but its military was pro-German, and as you might imagine, the Germans became very interested in William Martin and his briefcase.


The Spanish government never told the British they had found the body of Major Martin, and the Brits began sending frantic telegrams looking for him and his briefcase. They made it plainly clear that they needed to recover him as soon as possible.


What the Germans found in the briefcase was startling. Basically the documents outlined the entire Allied plan in the Mediterranean. It seemed that the Allies were going to launch an invasion on the coasts of Greece and Sardinia, which is what many in the Nazi high command had expected for some time. In fact, the Nazi intelligence office was so confident that William Martin’s information was genuine, they refused to hear evidence to the contrary from the Spanish coroner who did the autopsy. He tried several times to give them proof Martin wasn’t the victim of drowning, but instead had died of pneumonia.


The British knew the German intelligence service would be overconfident, they were counting on it. “Operation Mincemeat” as this exercise was called, relied heavily on a combination of overconfidence and an intense desire to please superiors which led to the false information making its way up the chain of command and onto Hitler’s desk. He responded by sending a tank division and extra troops to Greece. The German commands in Greece and Sardinia were put on high alert. 
The Allies were coming.


On June 6, 1944, the Allies did invade. But instead of invading in Greece, they landed on the coast of Normandy, France, in the largest amphibious assault in the history of the world. This invasion won the war for the Allies.


Pride is like a disease. It affects everything you do and can cause massive mistakes. It clouds your judgement, and like the Germans in “Operation Mincemeat,” you’ll ignore the truth when you see it.

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About Drew

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A follower of Jesus, trying to build myself and others up from the inside out.