The problem of prideSunday ReadingsPodcast of the Sunday Readings Sunday Bible Study QuestionsVideo Reflections Lecturas y Comentarios New American BiblePrayer of the HoursBQ: “Is Jesus and God the same?”
Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct. 30, 2011 (31A)
By Fr. James Gilhooley
The boss was in his new office. An employee walked in. The boss picked up the phone and started an imaginary conversation flattering himself. He signaled the worker he'd be with him shortly. The employee said, "Take your time, boss. I'm here to hook up your phone."
"A proud heart," wrote Ben Franklin, "is like a crooked fence. All the paint in the world won't straighten it."
The problem of pride was as bothersome to the early Church as it is to ours. Mark and Luke touch upon pride as well as today's Matthew. No century corners the market on pride.
Can anyone even remotely imagine a proud Christ? Yet, He had much to be proud about.
What disciple does Jesus seek? A monk was sent to an abbey as abbot. He arrived at the abbey. From his dress, the monks judged him inferior. They sent him to their kitchen. Their new abbot spent weeks scouring pots and shelling beans.
The bishop arrived. When he could not find the abbot, he went on a search. He found him in the kitchen preparing supper. He presented him to the monks in chapel. They had received a lifetime lesson in humility. The abbot is the man whom the Teacher wants. (William Barclay) The proud, we are told, pray on Sunday and PREY on those about them on Monday. Rather, pray with God on Sunday and walk with Him on Monday.
The abbot reminds us when we think we are humble, we are not. Many of us even have a nasty habit of being proud of our humility. We become legends in our minds. We go to church to find out what our neighbors should do to lead better lives. He that is proud, said Shakespeare, eats himself up. Pride, says the Bible, goeth before the fall.
In Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," Alice found a mushroom. When she ate one side of the mushroom, she found herself getting smaller. When she ate the other side, she got taller. Of the two situations, Alice decided smaller was better. For, as she was reduced in size, all things and people about her looked more wonderful. Less, she discovered, can be more. Small can be beautiful.
Walt Whitman ate the correct side of the mushroom, for he wrote, "As for me, I know nothing else but miracles."
We are forever circling that same mushroom. If we allow ourselves the portion that makes us larger, everything else about us will lack wonder. We will become puffed up with our worth. Critics will put us down as studies in pomposity. We will develop in ourselves the very faults which we detest in others. The proud, says the savant, detest pride in others.
A man was awarded a medal for his humility. Shortly he was stripped of it. He had begun to wear it proudly. Many of us have much in common with him.
Two ambassadors walked on Paris' Champs Elysees. They were grieved. Though the Parisians had greeted them warmly, none had addressed them with their title, "Your Excellency."
If proud, one becomes the character whom Peter Ustinov addresses in his play as "Your Altitude." We become like those who ask, "What will the world do without me when I'm gone?"
Only those who permit themselves to grow smaller and smaller will be able to see "the world in a grain of sand and heaven
in a wild flower." Not only will they bring themselves joy but also they will share that joy with others. They will be God's ambassadors. They will give pleasure to the Christ.
They will become the children which the Nazarene asked us to be. They will rush into the Kingdom laughing and singing "When the Saints Come Marching In."
A US senator attends a weekly prayer group. At its end, while other participants rush to their jobs, the senator stays to stack chairs and clean up. And he is the highest ranking person there. Looking for a role model?
But do not put off this thousand mile journey! Lewis
Carroll must have had each of us in mind when he wrote in his other classic "Through the Looking-Glass": "It takes all the running you can do to stay in one place. If you want to get anywhere, you have to run twice as fast."
A US president was working an old age home for votes while running for a second term. He said to an old man, "Do you know me?" The fellow said, "No, but if you ask the nurse, she'll tell you."
No one, history tells us, has ever choked to death from swallowing his own pride.
Can those, who really know themselves, afford to be proud?