St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Mt 23: 1-12
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.
They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi.
But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
“All their works are performed to be seen.”
Pride depends on being acutely aware of how I am being perceived. I cannot have pride in an act or an ability unless I show it off. If my self-worth lies in impressing others, when left alone, I despair, forgetting my true value in God’s eyes. The worst thing about pride is that it weighs “heavy burdens” on others; it leaves those closest to us as collateral damage, weighed down by the heavy costs in our fight to out-perform our peers.
Like a child lying on the hardwood floor carefully coloring a picture, singing a made-up song, humility, on the other hand, is not worried about what others think. Humility exists in a state of blissful disinterestedness, doing the act for its own sake, not for the perception of it. Lest we forget that humility is a grace only given by God (and often at the times we least desire it) we should remember the humorous words of Golda Meir, the fourth Prime Minister of Israel: “Don’t be so humble; you’re not that great.”
Lord, help me to accept the little humiliations that come with this day.
Lord, what good deed do you want me to do today for its own sake, even if that means doing it in secret?
—Cyril Pinchak, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic teaching English at University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy, Detroit MI. He is also a published poet.
Let nothing trouble you, Let nothing scare you. All is fleeting; God alone is unchanging. Patience attains everything. One who has God lacks nothing. God alone fills our needs.
—St. Teresa of Avila