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Spiritual Arrogance

"...for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18: 14b

In this famous parable Jesus contrasts the spiritual dispositions of a pharisee and a tax collector. (cf. Luke 18: 9-14)   The Pharisee enters the temple boasting of his piety and generous spirit while the tax collector beats his breast in shame and asks for forgiveness instead.  Jesus sternly condemns the self righteousness of the pharisee while praising the authentic humility of the tax collector.

I know that I have heard this parable a million time before, but something struck me today;  Could it be that I was the pharisee? the self righteous one whom Jesus condemns? At first I was repelled by such a radical notion, but as I reflected more and more I realized that yes I have been guilty of spiritual arrogance.

Take for example when I attend Sunday mass. Usually I will find myself judging the bubble gum chewing teen, the woman in front of me who wears tight fitting shorts which say "Cutie" on the bottom of her bottom, the parents of the girl who allowed her to wear those shorts, the misbehaved child who screams unceasingly, and says "No" about a thousand times,  the cantor who sings abhorrently slow, the reader who speaks with a monotone and can't pronounce words, or the immigrant priest who begins his sermon with same bad joke that he told the week before,  and on and on.   In all of these cases I am just like the Pharisee, boasting of my own superiority, forgetting that I am an even worse sinner than the ones I am judging.

Instead Jesus wants me to get off my pedestal, and instead pray for those that I am judging.  I must remember that all the good that I have ever accomplished came only through his abundant grace; not through my own efforts or inherent goodness.  Yes I might have cooperated with him at times, and acted on those good impulses, but the predisposition to do the good came solely from Christ.  Without this grace I am nothing, without Christ I am nothing.   "I must allow myself to decrease and the Lord to increase."  Otherwise I am guilty of an even worse sin,  Spiritual Arrogance...

Prayer:  Lord Jesus I ask you to take away my spiritual arrogance, and give me instead the rightful understanding that I am saved not through my own efforts, but by your grace alone.  Lord let me not be like the Pharisee, help me instead to be more like you; constantly forgiving the shortcomings of others, because through doing this I am imitating your greatest attribute, mercy.  Lord help me to be humble, help me to be more like you every day.  Amen.

Comments

  1. I can relate to what you are saying and find myself in the exact same situation at Sunday Mass, trying very hard not to judge the people whose phones are going off as their young children scream uncontrollably. And then there's the gum chewing, whispering, texting - total lack of reverence - and the list goes on. Thank you for shedding light on this matter. It's nice to read something that I've been thinking but for whatever reason haven't expressed to anyone aloud! Great post.

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