Ordinary 30th Sunday – PRIDE VS HUMILITY

Ordinary 30th Sunday

Sir. 35: 12-14, 16-18                             2Tim. 4: 6-8, 16-18                               Lk. 18: 9-14



“Pride changed angels into devils; humility makes men into angels” – St. Augustine


The gospel of today beautifully juxtaposes pride with humility. It compares and contrasts pride with humility. While pride is personified in the Pharisee, humility finds its personification in the publican. Let us reflect over the contrasting qualities of pride and humility.

-Pride keeps oneself as the centre; Humility keeps God as one’s centre. Though it looks like that the Pharisee thanked God, in fact he was thanking himself. He sang a ‘thanksgiving psalm’ not for God’s actions, but for his own actions.

-Pride makes one think more than what one is; Humility makes one think in the same way as one is. Pride compares oneself with others and feels superior. Humility just accepts oneself with all one’s strengths and limitations. While the Pharisee felt superior by comparing himself with the publican, the publican just looked into himself.  St. Francis of Assisi said,  “I am what I am in the sight of God, nothing more and nothing less.”

-Pride judges others; Humility judges oneself.

-Pride looks down upon others; Humility looks up to God.

-Pride leads to self-righteousness and egoism which, in turn, are the causes of many other vices and problems. Humility leads to self-acceptance and altruism which, in turn, are the causes of many other virtues and blessings. Scientific researches tell us that the people who often use the words such as  ‘I’ ‘me’ and ‘mine’ are prone to heart attack.

-Pride demands and commands; Humility surrenders and  sacrifices.

-Pride criticizes and condemns; Humility pardons and forgives. St. Paul’s humility manifests in his readiness to forgive those who deserted him: “At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them!” (the second reading).

-Prides leads to downfall; Humility leads to uprise. The book of Proverb says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16: 18). Again it says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but wisdom is with the humble” (Prov. 11: 2).

-Pride tries to impress; Humility tries to express. Thomas Merton  says, “Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.”

-Pride uses too many words; Humility uses just the needed and necessary words. In the Greek Bible, the Pharisee uses 29 words, whereas the publican uses just 6 words. It has to be kept in mind that coins, which are of low quality, make so much of noise, while currency, which is of high value, makes no noise at all.

-Pride predominantly looks outward for its self-gratification; Humility predominantly looks inward for its self-satisfaction.

-Pride is oriented towards self-security; Humility is oriented towards self-sacrifice.

-Pride tends to see more of one’s strength and less of limitations; Humility sees both strength and limitations equally.

-The prayer of the proud does not reach God; The prayer of the humble reaches God (the first reading).

-Prides sees others’ vices more and virtues less; Humility sees other’s virtues more and vices less.

-Pride converts even the good into an evil. Though following up of commandments was something good, the Pharisee had made it an evil for himself because of self-boast. The religious rituals of the Pharisee did not lead him near to God, but to self-gratification; Humility converts even the bad into a virtue That is what Jesus did on the cross. His death on the cross gave totally a new meaning to the cross itself. Earlier cross was the symbol of curse, but now of redemption (Gal. 3: 13, 14).

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ – in order that… we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3: 13, 14).

-Pride puts oneself above everything else; Humility puts everything else above pride.

-Pride offers immediate gratification, but creates long-term troubles. Humility accepts short-term humiliations for a long-term happiness.  “A person’s pride will bring humiliation, but one who is lowly in spirit will obtain honour” (Prov. 29: 23)

-Pride makes oneself as God; Humility makes God as oneself.

-Pride alienates oneself from others and God; Humility aligns oneself with God and others. “The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord; the heart has withdrawn from its Maker” (Sir. 10: 12)

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