Sunday, June 20, 2021

Satisfied with Pride?

Propers for the third Sunday after Trinity

Sermon for the third Sunday after Trinity

What are you proud of? An accomplishment? Some aspect of your life? Your family?

And then you hear Our Lady say that the Lord scatters the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

Are you prepared to have all your pride scattered?


There's something that doesn't sit right in this, isn't there? What's wrong with being proud of being autistic and overcoming the social difficulties that arise, or being proud of your son's first steps, or being proud of being a Christian.

The word "pride" here is being used to mean thankful, gladdened and satisfied deeply. We can be satisfied deeply and warmly with our acing the test, writing that book or our father's serving his country in the war. This all seems reasonable. We can indeed find satisfaction in what we do. We can see St Paul's pride in the people whom he has brought up in the Faith. He is proud of the Colossians, the Ephesians, and the Philippians. This pride forms an attachment; it develops relationships and draws the Church together. But this satisfaction - this pride - is born of humility. 

How can this satisfaction have anything to do with the sin of pride?


The sin of pride is an idolatry. It means that there is an aspect of yourself or of your life that you put over and above God. It becomes something you worship and protect before your duty to God. It is something created that you hold to be of greater value than God.

It means that the thing you are proud of most becomes you. You can be proud of being autistic but the moment you allow that to be the single defining issue of your life, you make yourself smaller - a self-caricature. You can be proud of your son's first steps but, the moment they become the best first steps over anyone else's, they become ridiculous. You can be proud of being a Christian but if you call yourself Christian and reject the teaching of Christ, it's a label and little more.

At each step, pride makes your universe, your life and your very self smaller. To take one aspect of your life and demand that everyone else respect it, submit to it and worship it is to make yourself less of the person that God made. The noise of those who make such demands on others is the roaring of the Devil seeking whom he may devour.

The only antidote is humility.


Humility makes us bigger people. Humility helps us to realise that those things that give us that warm and deep sense of achievement are just a fleeting fragment of who we are. Humility helps us to see that we don't even know ourselves sufficiently and that there are greater accomplishments in life which require us to submit to the will of God and leave behind what we have done before. Humility helps us to see that, if we seek to define ourselves, we become very small indeed.


It is fine and good to be proud of being autistic or producing a piece of fine art or of the little drawing that your son has done, for God delights in these, too. And God delights in you too, not the you you say you are, but the you He created for Himself. Accepting this means seeing all pride scattered until only the humble and beautiful truth remains. 

No comments: