11thSunday in Ordinary Time
June 17, 2018
Résumé Virtues and Eulogy Virtues
Several years ago, there was an interesting column in The New York Timesthat really has something to say to us.
Columnist David Brooks writes that from his experience, he sees two sets of virtues. He calls these: “the résumé virtues”and “the eulogy virtues.”
The résumé virtues are the skills we bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the traits that are talked about at our funeral.
The résumé virtues are things like technological and management skills. They also include academic degrees and job titles.
All of these have a place in our lives. We need them to make a living and to make a contribution to our world and for our own fulfillment.
But columnist David Brooks says that our culture focuses so much on these résumé virtues that we often forget the eulogy virtues. Our years can pass by and the deepest parts of us can go undeveloped.
We may be much clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character. And so, we need to be attentive to these eulogy virtues.
These include patience with others and faithfulness to our life commitments when that is easy and when that is difficult. The eulogy virtues include honesty in our work situations and truthfulness in our relationships.
They include care for those in need and an effort to understand the perspective of others who are different from us. The idea is that we have to be alert and work at these eulogy virtues.
David Brooks says it so well: good people, he says, “are made, not born.” His idea is that we achieve inner character and virtue by the day-in, day-out, year-in, year-out stuff we do with family, friends, employers, employees, clients, customers, neighbors and people we do not even know.
Why We Have Mass
I think that remembering and working at these eulogy virtues is at least one reason why God told us to “keep holy the Sabbath day.”
It is one reason why we are to come to Mass on Sunday. It is like what Jesus says in that first parable in today’s gospel about the growth of the seed.
He is teaching that it is God’s power at work that fosters our personal and spiritual growth. So, here at Mass the Word of God refreshes us in these eulogy virtues.
It also deepens us in what they mean for our life situation. And then the Eucharist nourishes the growth of these virtues within us.
The Smallest…The Largest
The last thing I want to say is that all of this doesn’t happen overnight.
It takes time for us to emerge as a person of character, of inner depth, the kind of person Jesus calls us to be. Again, it is like what Jesus says in the second parable of today’s gospel.
The smallest of seeds, the mustard seed, ends up becoming the largest of plants. So, maybe a lot of things we do seem small and insignificant.
Maybe we don’t think about their value and what they are doing to us. But, taken together and over the long haul of life, they mount up.
From all the things that we say and do, by working at these eulogy virtues, we emerge as persons of character and inner depth. We become the whole or holy persons that Jesus calls us to be.