First Sunday in Lent A 2011

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a tragic play about a brave virtuous soldier who strays from the right path.  He bravely defeats his king’s enemies but pride and ambition creep in his mind.  Soon he and his wife plot to slay the king and rule the country themselves.  Macbeth began as a loyal servant of the king only to slay the king in his very house. 

There is an episode of Hogan’s Heroes where Colonel Klink and two other prison camp colonels attempt to depose their general.  Each of them had ambition to become the next general.  Pride and ambition got in the way and all three of them nearly were killed in retaliation.

According to the medievals, Satan or Lucifer was the highest of all the angels that God created.  Nothing was closer to God than this majestic angel but pride led him away from God.  Satan would rather rule in hell than to be the highest and most beautiful of all God’s creatures in heaven.

Pride is dangerous; it causes people to throw what they have away.  Rather than being content as the king’s loyal servant, the ambitious Macbeth kills the king.  Rather than being satisfied as a colonel, Klink covets being a general.  According to the medievals, pride is the most dangerous sin of all.  Adam and Eve suffered from pride since they sought to take gifts from God that would have been given to them freely as a gift. 

St. Thomas Aquinas following Pope Gregory the Great, defines four categories or species of pride. 

1.)    You think you have some good - BUT either you don't really have that good or the good you have isn't as good as you think it is.

For instance, you think you are intelligent but actually you are as dumb as a box of rocks or you are not as intelligent as you think you are.

2.)    You have some good - BUT you think you acquired it on your own.

You fail to recognize that every good you have comes from God as a gift.

3.)    You have some good, and you think God gave it to you - BUT you think God gave it to you because you deserved it.

God does not give these gifts because we deserve them.  God’s gifts and grace are given out of pure love and generosity.

4.)    You have some good; you think God gave it to you; and you think God gave it to you freely (based on no merit of your own) - BUT you think no one else should have this good except you.

Envy means we want to keep these gifts for ourselves.  God freely gives gifts not only to us but to all people.

As we begin our Lenten observance, we ask God to make us humble.  May God keep the dangers of pride which devastated Adam and Eve far from us.  Jesus Christ is true God and he could rightly demand obedience in all matters, yet he went into the desert alone and kept any pride or ambition at bay.  As we receive this great gift of the Eucharist, we ask God to keep us united to Jesus.

 


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