Start your meeting with the Sign of the Cross and a prayer
Someone read: (Luke 14:8-14)
" When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honoured in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Read the Reflection:
In May of this year I was very proud of my husband he was the lead actor in a play just 8 months after he had had a stroke that robbed him of his speech. He worked really hard at his rehabilitation so that he could go back on stage. Over the years I have also been proud of each of my children when they achieved something that had been a challenge for them and, using their God-given talents, they worked to get there.
There have been times here in New Zealand, and I am sure in all countries around the world, when we hear of the misdeeds of certain prominent individuals they are disgraced and humiliated. They lose their position of respect in the public eye. As the proverb says, "pride goes before a fall".
So in secular use of the words 'proud' and 'humiliation', we usually see pride as good and humility as bad. Pride is recognising achievement and humiliation comes after exposure of not living up to one's reputation. Are these definitions very different from what we would use in a spiritual context? Pride, as a sin, is claiming for myself honour or recognition for something that is not from my own effort, but is from God, or belongs equally to all people. Humility, as a virtue, is acknowledging our true place in God's creation and plan for the world, and accepting that plan; acknowledging that we are creatures, God is the creator. Perhaps especially the sentiments shown in the Magnificat are those of true humility God's greatness is the source of our gifts.
Sinful pride is thinking that my needs, wants and desires, my ideas, my way of doing things, my beliefs and way at looking at the world, are in some way more important, valid and more to be taken into consideration than other people's. They become, for me, even more important than God's way of doing things. I come first! I am the centre, if not of the universe, then at least of my own bit of the world. All of us begin life in this way and our growth in maturity and goodness depends on how well we move from 'me' to 'we'.
Humility is not pretending that we don't have gifts and talents or that we can't do anything useful that there must be someone better able than I am. The virtue of humility is acknowledging that I am not more important than others; we are all equally loved and valued by God, even though he has given us different gifts to exercise in different ways. It is also acknowledging God's place of primacy in all that we do and are.
Pride and humility are attitudes of mind and heart but as with all attitudes, they influence our actions. Pride can lead to unfair discrimination or to selfishness. I have been reading about Dorothy Day recently she was co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, which currently has branches in many parts of the world, including the US, where the movement began, and Christchurch in New Zealand. When talking about voluntary poverty, Dorothy includes time and reputation along with possessions as things we can hang on to and claim as 'mine', not for sharing. It seemed to me that our time and reputation are things that can also come into the realm of pride, as selfishness. We are tempted to do almost anything to keep our reputation, our good name. Perhaps even to deny Christ as Peter did "no, I'm not involved with those sort of people" the ones who speak out about injustice, make noisy protests over proposed bad laws in our country, who say that there is still sin, not just personal opinion.
And our time is also something that can easily become 'mine' to use for my leisure rather than a gift from God to be used for others thinking that my time is more important than others' needs. I'm not suggesting we become doormats for other people or that our own needs are not important they are. The directive from Jesus is to "love your neighbour as yourself", not instead of loving yourself. It is to give other people the same considerations as we give ourselves. So to be loving and generous to others we need first to know we are worthy of receiving love and gifts and to love and care for myself. And that worth comes from the fact that we are made in the image and likeness of God, as is each other person in this world.
Humility is to acknowledge this source of all that we have that is good; and pride is when we think that it is in fact from myself and therefore I am in some way better than others. Avoiding the deadly sins (of which pride is one) and practicing virtues (including humility) are part of the Christian life. But these two also get special mention in Marist spirituality. The three 'great no's', described by Marist historian Jean Coste sm as being essential elements of the Marist Way, are to say "No" to greed, pride and power. The humble, "hidden and unknown" Marist way is described by Marist Kevin Maher sm as "being ordinary". He says that "being ordinary does not mean being like everyone else, for the simple reason that everyone else is not being ordinary. Most are acting out a part or many parts, trying to 'prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet'." He recommends making our own the prayer of St Augustine, "Lord, let me know myself, let me know you". "This attitude", he says, "to ourselves, to others and to God, has always been attractive, because it is unobtrusive, sincere and empty of all self seeking, and perhaps because in any age it is always so rare."
So that could be a good place to finish with a suggestion to "be ordinary".
Share your responses:
You can use your own questions or these below:
What do you think 'being ordinary' means?
What actions do you see resulting from attitudes of pride and humility?
Have you faced times when you had to be assertive about maintaining your own rights, whilst still acknowledging the needs of others?
How can we help our children or grandchildren move from 'me' to 'we'?
No. 8 From our Charter for your reflection this month
A Christian mother reaches out to support and encourage all mothers & is open to receive the same from others.
" I thank my God whenever I think of you My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more " Philippians 1:3-11
For your own intentions and other needs
Conclude the meeting with the following:
A PRAYER FOR HUMILITY
O Father, give us the humility which realizes its ignorance,
Admits its mistakes, recognizes its need, welcomes advice,
Accepts rebuke. Help us always to praise rather than to criticize,
To sympathize rather than to discourage, to build rather than to destroy,
And to think of people at their best rather than at their worst.
This we ask for thy name's sake. Amen
(By William Barclay d.1978 Church of Scotland minister, Professor of Divinity & Biblical Criticism, University of Glasgow, Scotland.)