humility


January 12, 2011 + Pride

by Rev. Robert E. Lucas
from The Word, December 1962

In Arabic folklore, there is a tale that as the tares and the wheat grow, they show which God has blessed. The ears that have been blessed bow their heads and acknowledge every grain, and the more fruitful they are, the lower their heads are bowed. The tares which God has sent as a curse lift up their heads erect, high above the wheat, but they are only fruitful of evil.

Pride, in any form is an enemy of man. Pride deceives us and insists we have no faults, are better than others and that we should hold ourselves above our fellow man. Pride makes us think that all our talents, all our blessings emanate from ourselves and our own efforts and abilities. Pride discounts God and inflates the individual.

It is true that we should have reasonable pride in our appearance, our family, our home, school, and above all, in our Church. It is a healthy pride when we try to excel in our work, when we try to do better or to better ourselves. Of course, here too, the motive is important. We must make God our partner in our endeavors and in our successes.

Pride is the first sin that was committed in heaven and on earth. It was the voice of Lucifer that cried out:  “I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” (Isaiah 14: 13)  It was the cause of the downfall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, because they thought they could be like God.

Humility (Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee)

The Following is an excerpt from Great Lent, by Alexander Schmemann
From Chapter 2: Preparation for Lent

The next Sunday [after Zaccheus Sunday] is called the "Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee." On the eve of this day, on Saturday at Vespers, the liturgical book of the Lenten season-- the Triodion-- makes its first appearance and texts from it are added to the usual hymns and prayers of the weekly resurrection service. The develop the next major aspect of repentance: humility.

The Gospel lesson (Lk. 18:10-4) pictures a man who is always pleased with himself and who thinks that he complies with all the requirements of religion. He is self-assured and proud of himself. In reality, however, he has falsified the meaning of religion. He has reduced it to external observations and he measures his piety by the amount of money he contributes to the temple. As for the Publican, he humbles himself and his humility justifies him before God. If there is a moral quality almost completely disregarded and even denied today, it is indeed humility. The culture in which we live constantly instills in us the sense of pride, of self-glorification, and of self-righteousness. It is built on the assumption that man can achieve anything by himself and it even pictures God as the one who all the time "gives credit" for man's achievements and good deeds. Humility-- be it individual or corporate, ethnic or national-- is viewed as a sign of weakness, as something unbecoming a real man. Even our churches-- are they not imbued with that same spirit as the Pharisee? Do we not want our every contribution, every "good deed," all that we do "for the Church" to be acknowledged, praised, publicized?