November 23, 2007

Joe, Jesus, & Princess Diana...

...or, "If Humility Came in a Bottle, Everyone Would Have it"

"O humility, lovely flower, I see how few souls possess you. Is it because you are so beautiful and at the same time so difficult to attain? O yes, it is both the one and the other. Even God takes great pleasure in her." - excerpt from St. Faustina's diary
"It's like Princess Diana around here."

Indeed it was, the speaker referring to the homage paid in the hometown of Joe Nuxhall upon his death. Signs in every shop. A memorial serviced extended beyond the 4pm-8pm plan until almost midnight. The next day the hearse bearing his coffin made its way up and down many of the streets of the city with people gathered along the route.

What was it about Diana & Nuxhall? What could they possibly have in common?

Princess Diana was seen as "the people's princess". She was a member of royalty who had the common touch because, well, she was common. Rightly or wrongly she was perceived to have greater humility, which is what people - and even God - thirst for. Or maybe instead it is the divine streak within us that thirsts for it? People want to see humility so much they may even see it where it doesn't exist.

With Joe Nuxhall, never a name had so fit as "Joe", a regular Joe who could be found at Little League diamonds when he wasn't at big league ones. Even allowing for the natural tendency of exaggeration after a recent death, the universal testament of those who knew him was that Joe never took himself too seriously. "He's humble. He always thinks of others first," said former Red and devoted Catholic Sean Casey.

I think the reason the Gospels are dominated by the Passion narrative is the same reason Nuxhall & Diana were so popular (Diana on an international scale and Nuxhall at a very provincial level). The sight of God dying for us is the highest expression of humility there is.

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