Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Heb 12:18-19; 22-24; Lk 14:1,7-14
“All we need is pride! All we need is pride!”
This jingle playing on radio recently caught my attention. I listened more closely to understand why we needed to be more proud. To my relief, it was a commercial for a detergent powder called Pride.
There are many things that we need more of in this world. But we certainly do not need more pride in our lives and our world. The capital sin of pride is the mother of all sins. With pride in our hearts, every sin is possible for us and no sin is impossible. We see the effects of pride all around us – theft, lying, infidelity, abuse, wars, violence, malice, etc. We definitely do not need more pride!
The wise man Sirach tells us that we need more humility, “Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God” (Sir 3:18). The greater that God raises us in this life, the more that we must humble ourselves if we are going to experience the favor that God wants to bestow on us.
Are we aware of the exalted dignity that is ours as God’s beloved children by the power of the blood of Jesus? Unlike the blood of Abel that called out for justice and revenge on his murderous brother Cain, the blood of Jesus, our mediator, “speaks more eloquently than the blood of Abel,” (Heb 12:24) and pleads for forgiveness for our sins and our unconditional acceptance as God’s beloved children.
Thus, we have this greatness of being children of God, a gift from God by the blood of His Son. Because God has so exalted us, we have a greater obligation to humble ourselves the more. We can never be too humble. In our humility, we acknowledge our nothingness and that all that we are and all that we have come from God and He sustains them in us.
When Jesus says, “When you are invited to a wedding banquet, go and take the lowest place,”(Lk 14:10) He is not merely telling us about protocols of good behavior at public events. The wedding banquet is an image of the heavenly kingdom. The main point in His teaching that we must approach the kingdom of God with ever-deeper humility. Without this humility, we cannot enter the kingdom of God, “Unless you repent and become like little children you cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Mt 18:3).
There are so many ways in which a lack of humility prevents us from experiencing the amazing benefits of God’s kingdom in our midst. Here are a few of them.
Without humility, we will find ourselves fighting and competing with others for honors and superiority. We will be busy seeking for privileged seats that we will completely forget the gift of being invited to the banquet in the first place. We just cannot be at peace with others because of our unbridled pride.
Without humility, we will not be contented with what we have as God’s children. We will always compare ourselves with others and forget our own giftedness. We will lose our peace of mind because we are always searching for more and for better things without appreciating what we have already.
Without humility, we cannot pray as we should and so we do not receive the graces that comes to those who pray with a humble heart. We thus renounce dependence on God with grave consequences, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1Pet 5:5) What hope do we have if God should resist us because of our pride?
Without humility, we cannot live a good Christian life because we just cannot obey His commandments. In our pride, we love ourselves more than we love God. Thus, we will break His commandments and even justify it because loving obedience is lacking, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”(Jn 14:15) St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us that the devil does everything to bring us to pride because from that pride, “he can lead us to all sins.”
Without humility, we cannot accept, love and serve all persons because we will look down on many as not being worthy of our love and service. We will pick and choose those we associate with and thus we will lose the reward that Jesus promises to those who relate with all persons with humility, “Blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”(Lk 14:14)
Without humility, we cannot beg God for forgiveness for our sins, forgive ourselves, and forgive others. It takes a truly humble soul to approach God in the sacrament of confession and confess its sins to Jesus through the mediation of a human priest. Obstinately proud persons just cannot forgive others and they will thus forfeit all divine forgiveness, “If you do not forgive men their transgressions, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”(Mt 6:15)
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we seem to have forgotten the danger and malice of pride today. We are playing with pride in so many ways. We sheepishly speak of Gay pride, pride parades, pride events, etc. We indulge in proud thoughts and conversations about our possessions, achievements, relationships, etc. Strictly speaking, we have no reason to be proud of anything in itself apart from God because all that is true, good, and beautiful is from God and He alone deserves all the praise and glory for everything as He says, “I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I will give to no other.”(Is 42:8)
As God’s children, raised to the dignity of sharing in His own life, we must humble ourselves the more, even as we see pride all around us. Let us begin today to avoid pride in all its forms in our personal lives and in social relationships. We have no business in places or settings where pride is being extolled and celebrated for any reason whatsoever.
We should also begin to cultivate humble hearts. We can begin by begging God for the grace of a truly humble heart. He loves to give us this gifts if we beg with sincerity and persistent, “A humbled contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn” (Ps 51:17).
We grow in humility by offering sincere thanks to God for all that the good that we have and experience in our lives, “What do you have that you have not received? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?”(1Cor 4:7) A truly grateful heart will humble itself before God and others.
We also grow in humility as we accept the gift of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. Nothing humbles us more than knowing that God loves us even in our sins and He will die for us a million times and more just to prove His unfailing love for us. The love of God truly humbles us and teaches us humility, “Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29).
We also mature in humility when we acknowledge and confess all our sins, especially the sin of pride. Let us not pretend but humbly accept our limitations, humiliations, weaknesses, and sins and let them all remind us of our nothingness. Divine grace floods our souls and raises us up when we live in the truth.
We grow in humility in our relations when we treat others as equals. The blood of Christ has made us children of God and also has given us equal dignity before God. We mock the blood of Christ when we try to lord it over others or manipulate them out of pride.
Lastly, let us cultivate a true devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. God raised Mary to the highest dignity a creature could ever be raised by making her the Mother of God. Mary chose to humble herself more with the title of handmaid, “Behold, the handmaiden of the Lord.”(Lk 1:38) Loving Mary as our Mother allows us to share in her profound humility and to check our pride.
Jesus Christ humbled Himself to become one like us by being born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He continues to humble Himself in coming to us in the Eucharist under the forms of bread and wine to nourish us and wash us clean with His blood. He thus shows us that an ever-deeper and continuous humility is the path to true life as children of God. He always invites us to grow in this humility.
We definitely do not need more pride but more humility. A soul growing in humility will experience the power of Eucharistic grace. But this same grace is useless to a soul that persists in any of the many forms of pride.
So, by the grace of God, let us never stop living, acting, and growing in humility before God, others and self, and God will surely reward us in this life in the life to come.
Glory to Jesus! Honor to Mary!