Take Heed, Lest You Fall

Perhaps it is just a hunch but I feel that the kind of people my Master has a hard time assimilating are not the sinners but the self righteous. Their smug superior attitude frightens me also.

The story goes that this man went to the doctor and told him that he suffers from a dreadful headache and in no way can he get over it. “Can you do something for me, please?” he queried.

“Sure, replied the doctor. But I need to ask some personal questions if you don’t mind. Do you drink? Wine, whisky, brandy, beer…”

“Not at all, doctor. I never touch alcohol.”

“Do you smoke?”

“No way, doctor. I never put any tobacco in my mouth.

“Sorry for asking you this question now… do you have any sex issues at all?

“What are you talking about? By 8pm I am already in bed…”

“I guess I know what your problem is. This terrible headache you are feeling, is it something that is pressing hard around your head, like something that is too tight on your forehead?”

“That’s exactly it, doctor. It’s like something bearing down hard on my brow.”

“I know what the problem is. Your halo of holiness is too tight. You need to loosen it a bit…”

Saint James says in his letter, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Another story.

“What’s wrong with you this morning, you look so upset?!

“Oh I had such a nightmare, I feel so terrible!”

“What did you dream, then?”

“I dreamed that I died and I went to heaven. There I found myself in front of a very long corridor and when I walked through this hallway, it opened into two more corridors. On the right one, there was a sign saying, ‘For the Catholics’, and to the left, ‘For those who are not Catholics’. Obviously I took the one to the right. When I walked all the way, I found out that it opened once more into two more walkways that had clear indications. To the right, ‘those who have strong faith’, to the left, ‘those who do not have a strong faith.’

Naturally I took the one on the right. I walked all the way; and once more there were two other openings. To the right there was written, ‘those who are very charitable’, and to the left, ‘those who are less charitable.’ As expected, I took the right corridor once more and this led to another two corridors. The right corridor said, ‘those with a pure heart’, the left said, “those who do not have a pure heart.’ Logically I took the right corridor… but that was the biggest mistake I ever made, because I found myself… in hell!

I woke up shaking with fear…”

Chesterton, the famous witty British social critic, once wrote. “If I had only one sermon to preach, it would be a sermon against pride.” Perhaps the remark of Jesse Jackson makes sense, “Never look down on anybody unless you are helping them up.”

Abba’s remark is even more sharp, “I would rather fail with humility, than succeed with pride…”


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.