Pride or Humility?

Thursday April 25, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week in Easter

Reading (1 Peter 5:5b-14) Gospel (St. Mark 16:15-20)

In the first reading today, we hear from Saint Peter that we must clothe ourselves in humility. This is absolutely critical for anything else. Without humility, we cannot grow in holiness - it is just that simple. Now most of us would like to be humble, but most of us do not want to do what it will require to get it because, unless God chooses to infuse humility into you (which normally He does not do), what He does is provide humility through humiliation. And most of us do not like to be humiliated at all. We have way too much pride to think that we could even want to be humble. That is the problem: While we know it is something that we need, most of us really do not want it.

But when we realize the necessity of it - that there is no growth in holiness without it and that there is no way we are going to be able to oppose the Evil One without it - then we begin to understand that we need to ask for it. It is not something that is optional; it is absolutely a necessity. Saint Peter tells us, then, that we have to be vigilant and we need to oppose the devil "who is prowling like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour". The devilís strength is pride. As long as there is pride in us, the devil has a door that is wide open so that he can tempt, so that he can cause us trouble, so that he can destroy us. But if we are humble, the devil has no power over us.

If we are proud, we are going to try to fight the devil by ourselves. If we are humble, we are going to turn to God. We need to learn to be little children in the hand of God and in the arms of Our Blessed Lady. But most of us are too proud to think that we can be little children, and so again, we fight it. The problem is that we are doing exactly the opposite of what Saint Peter tells us. What most of us are doing is opposing God and not the devil because we are not doing it Godís way. The devil says, "Go ahead, take me on yourself. Get your ire up and be proud! Fight against me by your own strength. Iíll even let it appear that you have beat me on a few occasions because then you will be even more hardened in your pride and you will think that you can beat me again." God, on the other hand, says, "Just be humble. Just be a little child. Throw yourselves upon My mercy. Place yourselves in the arms of My Mother, and the devil will have no power over you."

Thatís all that is really necessary, but we have to be willing to do it. So we need to pray for humility - and you need to understand that if you do, the answer is going to come, normally, by being humiliated. Mother Teresa always said, "It takes a lot of humiliation to gain a little humility." So if you really desire the humility, be prepared for what is going to come, and rejoice when it comes. Do not curse the Lord for allowing you to be humiliated. Do not fight against it. That is the pride again. Just accept it. Be humble enough to simply accept what God sends. Then the humility will come.

When the humility is there, then you will have the power to be able to do whatever God wants you to do. Then the power will be there to resist the devil entirely because you are not going to try to do it alone or by any strength of your own; but rather, in your humility, in your childlike simplicity, you will turn to Our Lord and to Our Lady and you will rely upon them, upon their strength, and upon their grace. Then, with Our Lady, you will crush the head of the ancient serpent.

* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.