"feeling good about ourselves"
"For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled while he who humbles himself shall be exalted." —Luke 18:14
Jesus addressed the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector "to those who believed in their own self-righteousness while holding everyone else in contempt" (Lk 18:9). Very few people claim that this parable is addressed to them. Who admits to self-righteousness? Who thinks they hold "everyone else in contempt?" We act as though this parable applies to no one, when in fact it applies to everyone.
We all have a Pharisee lurking deep within us. We think we're not so bad compared to others. We thank God we're "not like the rest of men" (Lk 18:11), and we think God owes us a favor after all we've done for Him. Our arrogance is sinful and ridiculous, but we're so blinded by sin that we've lost perspective on our lives.
In our pride, prayer becomes a mere exercise in self-realization. When we pray, we talk to ourselves and think of our thinking, rather than of God. If we fast, we're actually dieting and expressing our will-power and/or vanity. If we tithe or give alms, it's not just our left hands that know what our right hands are doing (see Mt 6:3). We give not out of love for Jesus in the poor but to "feel good about ourselves" and to put salve on our consciences.
"God 'is stern with the arrogant but to the humble He shows kindness' " (1 Pt 5:5). Let us humble ourselves before the Lord.
Prayer: Father, this Lent teach me humility any way You wish.
Promise: "For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts." —Hos 6:6
Praise: Jesus healed Sandra of shingles.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape on Arrogance on audio AV 52-1 or video V-52.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 8, 2013
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