From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
August 28 – Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
There are several things which the various Christian religions will debate and disagree on. But there are also some fundamental truths we all agree on. One of these is the truth of pride. Pride is a sin – it is a deadly sin – it is the deadliest of all sins – it is the sin which took down Satan and many angels and it is the sin he turned to, to take down Adam and Eve – the sin that we are stained with by them and the sin that we constantly are at war with. Pride is seen as the deadliest of all sins, because it is the root of all sin. C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity. tells us “it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind…… it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.”
We have to make war on pride, but in today’s society, that is difficult. Every one of us fights it! It is the universal disease that we all have contracted to some degree. It is addictive and feeds on itself. It is the foremost drug of all history. Everything tells us to make ourselves better – to be the best. We take great pride in all we do. We are continually thinking about ourselves, and the particular status we should have in our families, at work, at school, in the neighborhood. We forget that we are nothing without God, and everything only because of God.
The anecdote to pride is humility. Humility is the virtue of accepting our gifts and rejoicing in them as God’s blessings to be put to the service of others. Humility is all about truthfulness. We do recognize and acknowledge our weaknesses and shortcomings. But as we accept the truth about our frailties, we also recognize and accept our gifts as well. It involves a servant’s attitude that includes a voluntary self-emptying and a recognition that those good things in us are a gift from God. St. Vincent tells us, “humility is the recognition that all good comes from God. Our Lord says that whoever wishes to become greatest of all must make himself least of all.” Just as pride is the greatest of all sins, so too humility is the greatest of all virtues.
We hear repeatedly throughout scripture “humble yourself and you shall be exalted.” This is one of the lessons Jesus is offering to us into day’s gospel. It is a parable that teaches us about our relationship with God and then one another. There’s no need to push our way forward before God to be noticed and honored. God notices the least and humble of heart and raises us up based sheerly on grace. We may be in the lowest places by choice or circumstances, but we are not overlooked by our God who, in Jesus, has come to where we are and says, “My friend, move up to a higher position.” You don’t have to exalt yourself or go to the head table. God knows who and what you are. He will come to those who serve Him, those who seek Him, and He will exalt them. This gives us hope and encouragement. God takes pleasure in our efforts to humble ourselves, and he loves to bless and exalt the humble. For just as pride is the root of all sin, so “humility is the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and bond of all virtue,” John Chrysostom tells us.
As Vincentians, we are called specifically to a charism to care for those in need. God graces us with the privilege to be His instruments in bringing peace and hope to those who He brings before us. He blesses us with the opportunity to grow in holiness by growing in humility through our service to the poor. When we embrace them in love and compassion, we embrace Him. How well do I seek His will in humility, welcoming all challenges he brings to me? How do I exalt the poor and those in need, seeing in them the presence of Christ? How well do I place their needs before my needs?
Lord Jesus, give me the humility to trust in you and to see your presence in those you bring to us. Help me to exalt others and their needs above my own. Allow me to honor you and glorify you by my obedience to your will for me. We pray all of this in your name. Amen