Cycle (A) 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time


Mal.1:14-2:2, 8-10; 1 Thess. 2:7-9, 13; Mt. 23:1-12

Two game Cocks were fighting fiercely to be king of the farmyard. One finally gained advantage and the other surrendered. The losing Cock slunk away and hid himself in a quiet corner, while the winner, flying up to a high wall, flapped his wings and crowed of his victory as loud as he could. An Eagle sailing through the air pounced upon the winning Cock and carried him off in his talons. The losing Cock immediately came out of his corner, and he ruled the farmyard from that day forward. (Aesop’s fables)

 Pride is a cancerous, lethal, and destructive quality, which probably more than any other negative quality, has brought down more kingdoms, toppled more empires, caused more wars, destroyed more marriages, ruined more friendships, and made many criminals than all of the other negative qualities combined and put together.

Creon is a character of pride in the play, “Antigone” written by Sophocles. His pride of power lead to his destruction. Creon was a man who had just become the king of Thebes. He couldn’t control the power of being over other people and he lets the power go to his head. In getting his new powers Creon decided to make a decree that would not allow the brother of Antigone to be buried, and if someone did bury him then that person would be killed. This went against the beliefs of most of the people in the town and many felt that it went against what the gods would see as acceptable.

The saying that “pride goes before the fall” is a universal truth. But, though pride is hated by most people, many still succumb to its enticing and seductive nature, and many end up losing everything as a result of the consequences of wallowing in it for too long a period of time.

The saying that “pride goes before the fall” is a universal truth. But, though pride is hated by most people, many still succumb to its enticing and seductive nature, and many end up losing everything as a result of the consequences of wallowing in it for too long a period of time.

Once pride starts to seep into someone’s personality to any significant degree it will start to seep into their emotions, actions, and behaviours. And once this negative quality starts to manifest into their actions and behaviours, then their judgment will start to cloud. And once their sense of proper judgment starts to cloud up, they will no longer be able to separate truth from error. They eventually end up becoming their own little god, thinking they have all of the answers to everything and that the entire world revolves around them and what they are trying to achieve and accomplish. They are no longer willing to be accountable to anyone else in their life, including God Himself.

They have forgotten and forsaken all of their true friends in this life. They have forgotten where they have come from, and they feel they no longer need any of God’s help or guidance to get them to where they are going. They are now totally self-sufficient and they think they can literally conquer the world through their own efforts and wisdom. And then sooner or later it happens – they fall – and they end up losing everything they have managed to build up over all of those years due to their own stupidity and imperfections

Hence, the scriptures emphasize the need to be humble. St. Peter wrote, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all of your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6) and St James taught “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10)

The proverbs teach us about the transitory nature of our existence. Hence, we should not be “boasting” about tomorrow because we have absolutely no idea what is going to be happening to us tomorrow. And not only do we have no idea on what is going to happen to us tomorrow – we don’t even know what is going to happen to us in the next minute. This is the basic fact that should help keep each and everyone of us totally humble and accountable in our walk with the Lord. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:1)

Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for seeking the places of honour at feasts and in the synagogues. They loved to be greeted in the marketplaces. In those days, politeness demanded that the length of one's greeting correspond to the dignity of the person. By dressing as one who maintained a great devotion, the individual would draw longer greetings.

Jesus finished His message by saying that the greatest is the one who is the servant. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who are humble will be exalted. In other words, one should wait until such time as God grants him a place of honour. He should not be creating his own place of honour.

The thirst for honour is the highest in our times. According the gospel the Pharisees occupied the seats of prominence to be seen by others. Jesus criticized this in very strong terms. But this attitude is reflected in man in every age, in various forms. Some adorn themselves with medals; some take pride in self-bestowed titles; while others look for attracting public attention. Today when we do something to arrest the attention of the public- donate a substantial amount to the church fund, help a needy person and publicize, take up the case of the poor for public sympathy etc. we imitate the Pharisees, and Jesus  stands before us  sternly condemning us and reminding us to be humble. When pride comes then comes disgrace but with humility comes wisdom,” says proverbs. At some points in life we ignore wisdom and thirst for honour.  Because we are threatened by inferiority complex. It creates problems in the family, in the parish and in the society. Let us remember that “True humility is intelligent self-respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or too meanly of ourselves. It makes us modest by reminding us how far we have come short of what we can be.