This is the season of pride. We exhibit everything we have, we pretend to be a different person, we try to conquer the heights of forbidden mountains and wave our hands in jubilation for little momentary pleasures thinking that they will make our lives more enjoyable. Pride is at its root. Pride directs us through a different path which unfortunately leads to perdition.
What is the price of pride? Jeremiah says it is nothing less than the loss of God’s favor. ‘I am against you, O arrogant one, says the Lord God of hosts’ (Jer. 50:31). As long as we are led by pride, we cannot enjoy the protection of grace. Divine grace flows towards the lowly. This is the experience of every person who found favor in the presence of God. Mary, who was ‘full of grace’ became entitled to this great privilege because of her humility.’For he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant’ (Lk 1:48).
Isaiah also testifies; ‘This is the one whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word’ (Isa 66:2). Pride is the opposite of humility. Pride is another name given for exalting oneself. Jesus Christ has told that those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Lk 18:14) in God’s eyes.
Isaiah describes the fate of one person who tried to exalt himself above God. ‘You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of assembly on the heights of Zaphone; I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High” (Isa 14:13-14). But God revealed to the prophet that this person was ‘brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the pit’ (Isa 14:15).
John the Evangelist also tells about three persons who, having failed in their attempt to spread their tents above the throne of the Most High being thrown into the depths of a bottomless pit. ‘And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever’ (Rev 20:10). Daniel also tells about someone who ‘exalt himself and consider himself greater than any god, and shall speak horrendous things against the God of gods’( Dan 11:36). His fate was also no different.
Pride is a sin against God. The spirit that controls persons with pride is the same spirit that works against God.This spirit has been active from the very beginning and is predicted to become increasingly powerful in the end times. We should not forget that the Church, while teaching about the Antichrist, does so in relation to the sin of pride. ‘The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh’ (CCC 675). This single sentence is enough to stress the extent to which the sin of pride distances us from God and thereby jeopardizes our salvation.
Glorifying oneself in the place of God is the extreme of pride. Paul the Apostle gives his teachings about end times by referring to a man who in his pride would challenge even God. He is introduced as ‘the lawless one who is destined for destruction’. According to Paul this person ‘opposes and exalts himself above every so called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God’ (2 Thes. 2:4). It is doubtful whether we are able to understand the gravity of this prophecy, that the spirit of pride and blasphemy will take its place in the temple of God!
God never accepts the prayer of the proud and arrogant. Then whose prayer is the one that reaches heaven and when does it reach there? Daniel writes: ‘From the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard’ (Dan 10:12). And the promise of the Lord to those who humble themselves and then pray to him is this; ‘If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you’ (Jn 15:7). This was the way the Centurion and the Canaanite woman prayed and we know that their prayers were heard.
We have to pay dearly for satisfying our pride. Be practical and go for humility that is totally free. More importantly, its rewards are long lasting.
Let us pray: O Lord, give us the grace to humble ourselves before you. May our wishes be according to your will and may they be granted to us. Amen.