Fr. Dr. Dan Patee, TOR, PhD (hereafter Fr. Dan) once said in class to be careful about the phrase "only human." He pointed out that humanity was created for union with God and would return to such a state. When saying someone is "only human," you're putting their fallen humanity at odds with the perfect humanity once held by Adam and Eve, eternally held by Jesus and Mary, and to be held by all the blessed in heaven. At the time, I thought he had a point, but not an incredibly important one.
This morning's homily was a long thirteen hours ago, and I no longer remember his point, but Msgr. repeatedly referred to human nature where he meant fallen human nature, and I began to see the importance of Fr. Dan's point.
The author of The Cloud of Unknowing differentiates between two kinds of humility: imperfect humility and perfect humility. Imperfect humility is what we're all used to - knowledge of our own wretchedness, especially through knowledge of our sins. But perfect humility is all the more important for true union with God, as it is a knowledge of God's glory as it shines through in us - not through any merit of our own, of course, but simply because we are human. He points out that were humility merely the knowledge of our own sinful weakness, how could our Blessed Mother and her divine Son be humble?
I've come to agree with Fr. Dan. Humanity was created for heaven, and that is where we will again find perfected human nature; thus to say one is "only human" in reference to an error or a failing is greatly mistaken, and an intellectual offense against our own hope of heaven.
Next time you're tempted to dismiss a transgression with the phrase, "It's ok, you're only human" - think about this idea. Think about heaven. And hope.
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