“Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.” ~ Andrew Murray
For the fourth time in these maiden days of Lent we delve into the Book of Isaiah https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Lent-With-An-Advent-Flavor, wherein the message on this Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Lent is a call to repentance, service, and redemption (Isaiah 1:10, 16-20). “Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.” “Though your sins be like scarlet,” the passage continues, “they may become white as snow; Though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool.” As I read this passage I can’t help but recall the words of Charles Spurgeon, who once said of the redemption that only Christ can offer “I thought I could have leaped from earth to heaven at one spring when I first saw my sins drowned in the Redeemer's blood.”
These sentiments are often echoed by those who return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation after a lengthy absence or from the RCIA Elect who enter into full communion with the church at the annual Easter Vigil. With regard to the latter, of the 6 readings that are proclaimed at this most sacred of liturgies, I always await what is to me the absolutely essential passage of the evening, Exodus 14. It is in this Old Testament tale that we revisit Moses’ parting of the Red Sea. Just as the Israelites were freed from slavery when the waters of the Red Sea were parted thus allowing the Israelites to flee the Egyptian soldiers, adult baptism frees its recipient from the enslavement of sin. It’s as though every single one of their sins, those which have dogged and plagued them their entire life, are drowned in the waters of the Baptismal font just as sure as Pharaoh’s soldiers were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea. Lent is the ideal time to partake of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. With the First Saturday devotion just a few days away, it’s even more powerful and efficacious.
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” These are the memorable closing words of Jesus in today’s Gospel (Matthew 23:1-12), a passage we have reflected upon a number of times in the past https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/For-he-who-exalts-himself-will-be-humbleddespite-his-huge-Twitter-following. In fact humility in general has been a popular topic for discussion https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Stay-Humble, primarily I think due to the fact that Jesus speaks of this virtue so often, clearly holding it in very high esteem.
Humility is an oftentimes misunderstood word yet such a vital virtue to cultivate. I don’t know that eternal life is possible without it. Why else would Jesus place such a premium on it time and time again throughout Scripture? Perhaps it’s because humility conquers pride, a deadly vice that is at the root of all sin. Pride leads us down the terribly misguided path they we can in fact live without God. Adam and Eve were the first to be seduced by it; many have followed.
Saint Louis once said “A proud man is always looking down on people. And of course if we are always looking down, we cannot see what is in front of us.” What is it that stands in front of us? Reality. Yes, pride can send us careening down the dangerous path of extreme delusion, so much so that our life eventually morphs into one enormous sham. A humble person on the other hand is steeped in reality. They realize they are not perfect. They happily accept that fact. They lean on the Lord in tough times and in good times.
I kicked off today’s reflection with a quote about pride. So let’s closed with a quote in support of its queenly opposite, the virtue of humility. This one comes to us courtesy of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, who said: “These are the few ways we can practice humility....”
“To speak as little as possible of one's self.
To mind one's own business.
Not to want to manage other people's affairs.
To avoid curiosity.
To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
To pass over the mistakes of others.
To accept insults and injuries.
To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.
To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
Never to stand on one's dignity.
To choose always the hardest.”
“We adore you O Christ and we praise you. For by your holy cross ~ and your humility ~ you have saved the world.”