Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sin or virtue

Pride is a tricky thing.

If we look to philosophy we find that there is a positive form of pride μεγαλοψυχία (megapsychia), literally "greatness of soul." It sits between two vices, vanity (overestimating yourself and abilities) and pusillanimity ( underestimating to the point of fear and inaction).

Isaiah in today's first reading shows us the vanity of mankind, the kind of pride that is a sin.

Will the axe boast against him who hews with it? Will the saw exalt itself above him who wields it? As if a rod could sway him who lifts it, or a staff him who is not wood!

If I take pride in myself and see all I have done in life as my accomplishment then it is a sin. If on the other hand, I am not afraid because I know "with God all things are possible." If I acknowledge that I am merely, to use Isaiah's metaphor; the axe, the saw, or the rod, it is virtue.

Often we Christians can confuse humility with self-deprecation. Self-deprecation is not a virtue it is a denial of our dignity as member of the Body of Christ, and can keep us from accomplishing the mission God has given us.

For a Christian we can have the good pride, greatness of soul, when we acknowledge that all we do, we do with and through God, the greatness of our soul comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit. We can boast but as St. Paul teaches us,

Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.

We should neither over-estimate or under-estimate our ability. We should be filled with pride in being God's children, ready to share that with the world. As St. Matthew tells us,

Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

In the end it is simple. To know if your pride is the sin or the virtue, ask one question. To whom are you giving the glory?

Today let us go out and be great souls, proud members of Christ, great instruments in the hand of God, building up the kingdom.