About the fault of pride when we pray.
Epistle from the first letter of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians
1 Cor. 12:2-11
Brethren: You know that when you were Gentiles, you went to dumb idols according as you were led. Wherefore I give you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God, says Anathema to Jesus. And no one can say Jesus is Lord, except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of ministries, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of workings, but the same God, Who works all things in all. Now the manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for profit. To one through the Spirit is given the utterance of wisdom; and to another the utterance of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; to another faith, in the same Spirit; to another the gift of healing, in the one Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another the distinguishing of spirits; to another various kinds of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But all these things are the work of one and the same Spirit, Who allots to everyone according as He will.
Continuation ✠ of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke
At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves as being just and despised others. Two men went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and began to pray thus within himself: ‘O God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men, robbers, dishonest, adulterers, or even like this publican. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I possess.’ But the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went back to his home justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.
Homily by Fr. Zepeda.
Today our Blessed Lord speaks to us of the need for humility. And he describes in very vivid colors the attitude of a proud Pharisee, who went into the temple to pray. His prayer, however, was filled with himself.
One of the Holy Fathers said: “Try to find any supplication in his prayer… there is none.”
To give us a real-life example of what kind of men our Lord was talking to, I will give you here a quote from a famous Rabbi, found in the Talmud:
“Rabbi Jeremiah, called Simon, son of Jochai used to say: I could be a compensation for all the sins of the world since I was born to this day, and if my son Eleazar were to die, he could deliver all men who have existed in the world since it was created to this day. And if Jotan, son of Uzias were with us, we could deliver the world from all sins since its creation till its end. I saw the sons of the Divine banquet, and they were few. If there were only a thousand, my son and I would be among them. If it was only two, it would be me and my son…” (Suca, fol. 452)
The Rabbi who supposedly said this, was the same author of the book Zohar. A book part of the Jewish Tradition.
To such was our Lord addressing his discourse.
We are not in such dire straits, I hope. Most Christians today understand the need for humility, and we all remember frequently that we need to be humble in our dealings with others. Even if we frequently fail, it is not something we ignore.
But there is one point of humility which we barely ever consider, and such is actually the main point Our Lord wished to make, it was the lesson He wished to impress upon our hearts. We must be humble towards God.
And this humility should be there, always specially when we pray.
When a Father has too much familiarity with his children, quite often they will lose their respect, and that wholesome fear, which they should have in his regards. Unfortunately, the same thing seems to happen to us with God.
Our Lord has been so good to us, he demands so little, and He has approached us in such a humble way, and so often, that we seem to forget who we are dealing with.
It’s as if our Lord was a king, who is constantly in disguise, in order to dwell and help and talk to his subjects. His love and mercy prompt Him to act like this with us; but in our forgetfulness and neglect, we soon forget the manners and respect and love that such a high king deserves.
What would be of us if we were to witness God’s majesty? If every time that we had to talk to Him we were to hear a voice such as the thunder, if whenever we had to approach him we had to face the evidence of his power as if approaching a tornado or a hurricane, if every time we were to desire to talk to him, we had to face the truth of our sins, or the terrible knowledge of his judgment?
And yet, he does nothing of the sort. It’s up to us to remind ourselves of who we are, and of who He is.
And so, my dear friends, we must approach our Lord in prayer in the following way:
First, with a humble posture. from this, it is that Christians kneel when we pray, and we fold our hands in supplication. Our Lady of Fatima even taught us to prostrate to the ground, in humble adoration to God almighty.
Let them, who separate from the true church, pray standing always, their arms raised towards heaven. We might do so, but not before we have knelt, and begged, and humbled our souls before our Creator.
Secondly, we must remember who we are. You, that pray, who are you? have you sinned in the past? do you deserve to be heard? do you deserve even to be admitted to an audience with our Mighty King? how many times have I betrayed Him? How many times did I hurt Him? How many times have I talked to God as if He was the lowest person in the world, without paying attention, without caring?
And so, I approach prayer, almost walking on my knees, begging for admittance, with repentance in my heart. As the prodigal Son approached his Father.
Thirdly, Humility in prayer is manifested by our recalling who it is that we are talking to. A Knowledge so infinite before which our highest thought is pure ignorance. A will so powerful than before it, we are powerless nothing, and less than nothing. A Love so generous and so strong, that before him, our better actions seem wickedness. We approach our maker, our buyer, our restorer, our judge. Him who is to determine whether if we will be eternally lost, or eternally blessed.
But, having remembered to humble ourselves in this way, let us not fear, and not let our hearts sink. For as we come lowly before our Father, He will raise us up, He will converse with us, as two friends do, two friends who love each other greatly. The more we have humbled ourselves, the more He will take us to Him.
What Love our Lord shows to the soul that approaches Him in humility! How much this soul resembles our Lord Jesus Christ in the eyes of the Father, and how much does this soul resemble the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the eyes of the Son!
Humility my dear friends, is our gateway to the Heart of Christ. We might be sinners, but as long as we find humility in our words, in our actions, in our prayer, we can be assured, a day will come when we will depart from sin.
Let us all strive for this virtue, and ask our Blessed Lord, to always grant us to imitate Him and His Holy Mother, in this regard.
St. John Chrysostom said: “Be Humble… and you will break the chain of your sins.”
In Nomine Patris…
Thank you for teaching us.