Our Scriptures are well paired, which offers wisdom about the relationship of pride and humility.
Our Scriptures, similar to first-century Palestine, are rooted in a honor-shame culture. The ‘worth’ of a person was determined by ‘honor points’ gained through family, profession, reputation, and actions minus the ‘shame points’ gained again through family, profession, reputation, and actions. This net-worth would determine your social status, social circles, and your literal place at the table; thus, the table became a visual of the social hierarchy.
Our Scriptures caution about being overly confident in our social net-worth, our importance, and the pride that accompanies it.
According to our Sirach text, pride was not created for humans and pride is sin begun in turning from and forsaking God. Perhaps, this is because pride is the foundation of self-centeredness (Martin Luther’s definition of sin), narcissism, and the God-complex.
While in our Gospel, Jesus is invited to the home of a Pharisee, and more-so a leader of the Pharisees on the sabbath. We can rest assured that the host was of honorable status, as well as his gathered guests. The host and the guests are carefully watching Jesus, because although he was a profound teacher of the Torah, he was also ‘taunted’ by performing works on the sabbath and his association with the shameful tax collectors, prostitutes, and those other “sinners”.
But, Jesus was also watching them. He noticed that the guests were continually choosing seats of ‘honor’ for themselves, thus Jesus begins to teach about pride echoing Proverbs 25:6-7:
Do not put yourself forward in the King’s presence
or stand in the place of the great;
for it is better to be told “Come up here”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.
Jesus is teaching the importance of humility above pride, and yet this teaching has always bothered me because it can promote a false and manipulative humility. Read the rest of this entry »