If there is one thing we regularly hear in our conversations, it is obviously this: “I do not need anybody to tell me how to live.” And one can be tempted to see in today’s gospel a lesson of moral from Jesus. Let us be clear here: Jesus is not trying to teach us good manners nor how to avoid embarrassment at an event. Rather, he is teaching us what is important in order to enter the kingdom of God. He says, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus is talking about two different attitudes that can either lead us to a deep relationship with God or a life of alienation from God, namely humility and pride.
Pride, as we can remember, was the first sin. The one that broke the relationship between God and the human being He created in his image and with whom he wanted to share his own life. Sin came when Adam and Eve were told that they “will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil.” Humility, on the contrary, is singled out in Scriptures as a door that opens to all other virtues and to an honest relationship with God. That is why Jesus tirelessly teaches us it and invites to cultivate it in our lives while giving us his own example. He says, “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.”
But is pride always a bad thing, one may ask? I would say no. This is because we have two kinds of pride. The first kind of pride is the one we call “healthy pride.” Healthy pride makes us honest about the gifts God has given us. Healthy pride makes us acknowledge all these as coming from God and grateful for them. It is healthy pride that enables us to develop and use our talents, to share with those less fortunate and to recognize the origin of all those blessings because they are gifts from God to us. The other side of healthy pride is true humility that makes us recognize honestly our dependence on God, being aware of our strengths and abilities, our weaknesses and shortcomings. True humility makes us lift up our eyes, hearts and souls to the One who created us and out of whom there is no life, namely God.
The second kind of pride is what we call “unhealthy pride.” This kind of pride tries to convince us that we are flawless and makes us look down on others as inferior to us. Unhealthy pride makes us think that we do not need god that much because we of our own capabilities to take care of ourselves. We rely on our possession to get everything we want and to “buy even life.” Unhealthy makes think that we are unstoppable. Unhealthy pride causes us to look down on others who are thought to be less brilliant or talented or attractive or wealthy than ourselves. It is this kind of pride that makes us blow up in anger and display every kind of meanness at our incapability to realize our own expectations. Unhealthy pride is intrinsically connected with false humility where we act humbly with hidden agenda. False humility is also demonstrated when we run after rounds of applauds and hunger (thirst) for congratulations after posing a good act. False humility makes us angry when we are not acknowledged or when nobody tells us how great we are.
Where do you find yourself in this description? And which direction do you resolve to take from now on? Did you hear this invitation from Jesus : “Lear from me for I am meek and humble of heart”? Let us continue to pray for one another and for our parish family.