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    St. Mary's Parish
    211 Avenue O South
    Saskatoon, SK
    S7M 2R6

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September 20, 2015 – Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

first shall be last

Last and least is first 

There are no good sins to commit. But pride is an especially bad one. One of the deadly ones (along with sloth, gluttony, greed, anger, lust, and envy), it’s often equated with the Original Sin that prompted Adam and Eve to turn from God and toward their own agenda. John Vianney concluded that pride was the cause of all evil that had ever occurred or would occur. He called wealth the door that most readily admits pride and warned, “There is nothing that is quite as ridiculous or stupid as to be forever talking about what we have or what we do.” Or, we might add, what we hope to have and do, which is the sin of the Twelve as they seek the title of greatest.

Bernard of Clairvaux also viewed pride as the Iniquity-in-Chief. He taught that “devilish” arrogance led us to treat gifts from God as attributes of our own nature. This is the error of the Twelve, who imagine that because Jesus has chosen them, they must be inherently worthy of his choice! Saint Bernard condemned such self-interest as leading inevitably to isolation, “the dark corner of a room” where love and community are paralyzed as we blindly pursue the self. It’s no wonder these same disciples will scatter in the hour of crisis. Their self-involvement defeats the bond of community and fidelity that might have held them together and with their center in Jesus.

Pride is the denial of God outright, another name for blasphemy according to John Climacus. He heaps blistering titles upon this mother-of-all-sins: an invention of the devil, the harbinger of madness, the author of downfall, the gateway of hypocrisy, the fortress of demons, the custodian of sins, and the foe of God. Jesus seems to agree with this four-bell-alarm view of the dangers of pride. His response to his disciples’ arm-wrestling for greatness is to plant a child in their midst and reveal that smallness is greatness. The way to be first is to be last. Jesus repeats this in sayings, parables, teachings, and behaviors from his birth in a stable to death on a cross.

Yet greatness remains a lure for disciples. It’s every bit as desirable today. Fame, celebrity, notoriety, attention by any other name is marketed to us constantly. We blog and Facebook and text and photo-journal our every activity into the public view as quickly as we can. We believe in the weighty significance of each thought that pops into our head, each opinion, decision, purchase, or wardrobe change. A friend recently asked her granddaughter: “What are you doing?” The child gravely replied, “I’m just being myself.” It’s hard for us to become the child, oblivious of itself, hidden from the world, richly lost in just being.

-Alice Camille


 

 09 – Sept 20, 2015 Bulletin

 

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