22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C
By: Rev. Fr. Sylvanus Ameh
Reading: Sirach 3:17-20, 28-29; Psalm 68; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24; Luke 14:1, 7-14
Theme: Pride Destroys
There are three elements that were present in the temptation of Eve and of Jesus. These elements are pride, pleasure and power. I call them The Devil’s 3 Ps, and deadliest of them of is pride. Satan tempted Eve to pride when he told her she will be like God if she eats the forbidden fruit; he also tempted Jesus to pride when he asked Jesus to show off by jumping of a height. Eve fell for that temptation, and many people in human history have also fallen for it. It is so deadly and destructive that God abhors it greatly. This pride is one of the dominant themes in today’s Liturgy of the Word. Both the First reading and the gospel speak strongly about pride.
In simple terms, to be proud is to think more highly of ourselves than we truly are; it is looking at ourselves as being superior to others; it is putting others down while exaggerating our own importance. Whichever way we describe it, one thing still remains: by pride, we attempt to put ourselves where God has not put us. The word of God is very clear on pride: God hates it! In fact, Proverbs 6:16 says it is an abomination unto God, and our first reading tells us that God hides himself from those who are proud. The Bible says further that “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Pet 5:5). It is in order therefore, to say that the reason why God is not answering some people’s prayers is because they are proud people.
Every time the bible talks about pride and proud people, it often ends in a destructive end for them. It was for pride that King Saul became envious of David and sought to kill him (1 Sam 18:6-9); we all know how Saul ended. It was for pride that God struck King Nebuchadnezzar and turned his heart to that of a wild beast (Dan 4:30-35); it was for pride that God also struck down Herod that he was eaten by worms even while still alive (Acts 12:20-23). In her Magnificat, the Blessed Virgin Mary said God shall scatter the proud in the conceit of their hearts (Lk 1:51) and in today’s gospel reading, Jesus tells us that anyone who exalts himself will not only be humbled but may also be publicly disgraced. It is important to note that pride has also been at the root of the collapse of many marriages/relationships and the premature termination of many destinies. Little wonder the Bible says that “Pride goes before destruction” (Prov 16:18).
Dear friends, today God is challenging us to shun pride and embrace a life of humility. This does not mean putting ourselves down, or thinking little of ourselves. It also does not mean denying our true worth or belittling ourselves. Humility rather means that we do not show off, that we accept ourselves for who we really are and not pretend to be who/what we are not. It also means that we realize our nothingness before God and give credit to Him for all that we have and are. Humility demands that we be ready to take corrections when we are wrong and also to say sorry; it demands that we be submissive enough to learn from those who know better than us. Most importantly, humility requires that we imitate our master, Jesus Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve.
Child of God, if you profess Christianity and you are proud, that is an irreconcilable contradiction and you must ask yourself what brand of Christianity you are practicing, for surely, if it is the type that makes us disciples of Jesus Christ, then you should have no place for pride in your life. May God grant us all the grace of humility. Amen