Most of us have some group of people towards whom we feel superior. Maybe its the members of the opposing political party or the people who fail to live by our superior ideals, but the reality is that many of us secretly revel in the idea that we are better than somebody else. We may not admit it to ourselves, but it often betrays itself in deep disorders of the heart whereby our attempts to better the world become laced with anger and hatred. In this way, we give space to the devil, and what starts out with good intentions soon sows the seeds for further injustices and greater evils.
The cycle of injustice and tyranny begins in the human heart and it is healed in the same place. When we have learned to let the Holy Spirit enter into and take out the log from our own eye, we soon learn that removing splinters is a lot more difficult than slogans and clever ideologies. In addition, we learn a valuable lesson by discovering the profound darkness and grave injustice of our own sins. This discovery awakens us to the fact that our Lord came to offer us freedom from our sins, but that he did not include a ready made means of measuring the sins of others.
When St. Paul writes, “In humility count others better than yourself” (Phillipians 2:3), it is precisely true humility that he has in mind. True humility is not grounded in simply trying our hardest to have bad self-esteem, but rather it comes from opening ourselves to the mystery of God’s love. In this way, we discover that Christ offers each one of us salvation, forgiveness, and reconciliation despite our unworthiness and the evil that we commit. When we have walked the path of healing and transformation, we learn to look past appearances.
Our new vision in Christ allows us to recognize the mystery of reconciliation at the heart of human existence. In this way, we discover that our surface impressions and superficial criteria for judgment can be misleading and often contains the deeper sin of pride. Thus, instead of our analysis being the means to creating a greater, more just world, it becomes the very means by which the devils perverts good intentions. Our self-righteousness in fact leads us to fall into greater sin than that which we seek to correct, for to those who have been given much, much is expected (see Luke 12:48).
Does that mean that we should not seek to correct sin, refute error, or work against injustice? Absolutely not. The reality is that we must always be vigilant in guarding the weak, the vulnerable, and those on the margins of society. However, in the midst of our activity, we must preserve a constant vigilance through regular conversion of heart. We must constantly remind ourselves that our work will bear fruit in proportion to our ability to enter into the mystery of God’s love. This is done not by an act of the will, but a renunciation of self; a constant plea to the Lord in which we cry out, “Have mercy on me a sinner.”
Today, let us tie this plea with every aspect of our lives. So often as we breath, let us practice the art of self-abnegation. So often as our heart beats, let us turn to the Lord in complete surrender.