His problem, as he described it, was that the girl he wanted to marry was rich and her family thought very little of him. After we discussed the matter, I told him, “Sir, the real problem is that you think too little of yourself. You are not less in value – and not more for that matter – than anybody else. If they understand this concept, they shall welcome you for what you stand for.. if they reject you, it should be for that same reason and nothing else.. in which case you may be all the better for it.
Low self esteem – which is completely different from humility – is a very debilitating disease ..
On the other hand, Pride is a malignancy impossible to detect or cure except by Grace… !!
Do you know why?
In the case of pride, Grace – and only Grace – can identify those hearts and souls which may be ready to accept the enormously powerful shock therapy required for such cure. That is why we see Grace touching the hearts of such a notorious gangster like Moses of Egypt, or self righteous Saul of Tarsus while the likes of Caiaphas were left staring Grace at the face and yet unable to realize the enormity of the opportunity given to him, and thereby condemning himself to eternal damnation.
It is an undisputed fact that all humanity had fallen, and all humans are under the yoke of sin. Some people try hard to approach God and repent realizing that there is nothing they can do to atone for their sins, and therefore the only way to reconcile with the divine is through the grace of God which can only be available through the sacrifice of the cross. Some others do not – or cannot – accept that simple fact, consequently, they either waste their lives trying some other futile means, or give up completely.
Most of the time, the gravity of our sins itself contribute to our failure to seek the power of Grace. Despair kills any chance of salvation and the enemy erases from our memories the words of God promising that even if our sins are as dark as crimson, He would wipe it clean and turn our life to become as pure as snow. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18
From the time of Golgotha to the time of the Resurrection, we see these realities exhibited so clearly through two glaring examples:
The first is the man called Caiaphas, who thought himself to be pure and mighty, when in fact he was so proud as the devil itself, While we see Mary of Magdala, who was a sinner and demon possessed low esteemed woman, turn into a saint and a preacher with unmatched honor in all history.
Caiaphas was a High priest, a man of high esteem and knowledge .. in his own mind, he seemed to think that he was serving God and serving the people. He was feared and opposing him was a very dangerous task, which might lead to serious consequences .. Before he met with Jesus, he had to deal with kings, rulers and soldiers … and above all he had the exalted power to corral the unwieldy members of the Sanhedrin. Even Pilate was wary of him and had to manage to appease him in order to keep the peace, to the extent that he would release Barabbas, a killer and a bandit, against his own judgment to avoid a confrontation. Now, people with such weighty power tend to be unscrupulous, and mindless about whatever others think of them or whatever the consequences of their behavior might be. Caiaphas was the ultimate example of pride unchecked.. looking and pretending to be righteous and upstanding, while in fact the malignancy of pride was corrupting him to the core. Even though he probably memorized David’s psalms and learned everything about Abraham and Moses … sadly, he could not comprehend the real source of greatness of these stalwart and righteous men.
At that same time, while women were generally looked upon as weaklings second class, and were not accepted as arbiters, or even equal to men, a particular disgraceful status of disdain and disgust was kept for any sinful demon possessed adulteress. Mary of Magdala was just such woman before she met with Jesus. Her transformation is an example for the ages. This is the ultimate transformation of human kind, because this woman exemplifies the status of degenerate and fallen humanity before the cross at Golgotha.. and the conversion that happened Sunday Morning of the Resurrection.. into a new Holy and pure “Sainthood”
Once God cast all the demons “sins” out of her, she became free. The kind of freedom which liberates you from fear, or desire or greed. While most of the disciples ran away and denied … she stood next to the Holy Mother at the cross .. she even had the initiative to wake up early Sunday morning to go the sepulcher only worried about “who would move the stone for us.” She did not know that Christ has risen.. she expected to find the Holy body laid down where it was left in the tomb. Keep in mind that what she did that morning was purely driven by love .. fearless and devoted to the master who freed her.. she did not expect to be rewarded or immortalized by a gift beyond any human comprehension. Anybody else – human, that is – would wallow in sorrow and despair, and stay home sleeping until Sunday afternoon.. which almost all other people actually did. Up to the moment she actually saw Jesus, she was crying, unable to perceive the unimaginable glory she was witnessing .. for all humanity.
Now notice how she was later ridiculed, though she was right, while Caiaphas was praised, though he was wrong. This is how the world deals with us every day. Most people do not think that even after Caiaphas had condemned Jesus to death, and after the Resurrection of Jesus, Caiaphas had the opportunity to reverse course and save himself.. he could have acknowledged the glorious resurrection and believe .. but, his pride – not stupidity, because reaching his position in society could not be achieved by stupidity – blinded him and thereby condemned himself for all eternity.
The question is, why didn’t grace touch this man’s heart in order to believe? The answer is simple, this haughty heart was not prepared to accept the price of that grace… marching to Golgotha, carrying the cross – with all its tribulations, shame and temptations – and kill the megalomania of selfishness and self adoration. The prophetic words of the song of Saint Mary comes to mind, “
” … He (GOD) hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away…” (Luke1 :51-53)
A natural question presents itself to us in order to avoid these confusing misconceptions. Does that mean a person should have no self esteem at all ? if pride is so wicked, and low self esteem is frequently confused with humility, is there a point of balance or a third choice?
The answer is no. Pride is a malignant disease, nevertheless, it should not be confused with proper self esteem, same like humility should not be taken for dishonor, which drives some people to feel like they have to be mindful of their reputation and dignity everywhere they go and with everybody they meet.. such people carry themselves around with an air of self awareness that is usually unpleasant and in some cases even repulsive. These people are not really proud, but merely scared of being belittled and dismissed as inconsequential by others. The actual virus of pride stems from the self .. that is why when a person understands the real value of himself / herself.. the attitude and behavior is completely changed. My value as a person does not come from my bank account, my degree of education or my heritage .. but in fact it comes from being a prince .. a son of a King. Because if Christ is the King of Kings, It follows that I am his son, a prince. This connection puts everything in the proper place. I can afford to be humble, even if people humiliate me, I am not offended because I already know my own worth. And if people respect me, it never goes to my head to feel superior to anybody, because this was never the source of my esteem. This is why observing a “religious person”, wearing his pride around like another layer of skin, is really sad … because his/ her strict religious practice, or any other material advantage cannot camouflage the underlying malignant disease… case and point Caiaphas. On the other hand notice how Saul, after falling off his horse “of pride” had exemplified the transformation explained here as he maintained that proper self-esteem to defend himself when he was accused of “not being an apostle” but he remained the humble man even though he had witnessed “things beyond the imagination of human mind.. what no man had ever seen or heard”
So, you see the danger of pride is real and very bad, yet those who realize the true source of dignity and honor, shall be willing to go looking for it on the way to Golgotha and certainly end up witnessing the empty tomb with all its glory..
It is never too late .. even a proud and haughty heart, may find a way back to sanity and grace, if only he/or she would put away their self adoration and vanity
Are you ready to pay the price … and fall off the horse of pride (like Saul did) in order to receive unexpected and unimaginable bounty of grace…