This Week's Reflection
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 493: Pride: Reflection on Isaiah 10:12-15
“But when the LORD has brought to an end all his work on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
I will punish the utterance of the king of Assyria’s proud heart, and the boastfulness of his haughty eyes.
For he says: “By my own power I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd.
I have moved the boundaries of peoples, their treasures I have pillaged,
and, like a mighty one, I have brought down the enthroned.
My hand has seized, like a nest, the wealth of nations.
As one takes eggs left alone, so I took in all the earth;
No one fluttered a wing, or opened a mouth, or chirped!”
Will the ax boast against the one who hews with it?
Will the saw exalt itself above the one who wields it?
As if a rod could sway the one who lifts it,
or a staff could lift the one who is not wood!” Isaiah 10:12-15
What does the prophet Isaiah see as the root of Israel’s problem? If we recall the prophet Hosea, we see that Hosea saw the nation’s problem as being idolatry. Isaiah, if we read him carefully, has made a shift. So, what does HE see the problem as?
“For he says, ‘By my own power I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd.” So, Isaiah sees the problem as being Israel’s PRIDE. But how can that be, Father? If ALL the prophets are being inspired to speak by God, how can they come up with different identifications to the problem? Really, they’re NOT contradictory. Rather, problems evolve. First we get attracted, and then attached to money, flesh, or power. We feel guilty and we try to resist it; but our desire is greater than our love for God. So, we either justify our desire, or we deify our desire, we actually convince ourselves that our desire is REALLY a GOOD thing, rather than a sin.
For example, take a teenage girl who has gotten pregnant. She didn’t want to have an abortion, but if she DIDN’T, her parents would disown her, or her boyfriend would leave her, or her pastor would be so disappointed in her, so she has the abortion. Then she convinces herself that this was REALLY the best thing for herself AND her child, because if she did have the baby, what kind of life could she have given it, but now, the child is with God in heaven, so they’re both better off. Then she starts working in the abortion industry or politically advocating the abortion industry, because she feels that she’s empowering women! And that’s a “good” thing!
It’s starts with the idol, the desire- she wants to take sex out of the context of marriage, and fulfill her cravings too soon. That leads to murder, which is all abortion is. And that leads to the rationalization, because she can’t face the fact that she murdered her child, and she actually wants MORE women to do this so that she feels justified in her choice. And, finally, THAT evolves into, “I don’t need God.” “By my OWN power I have done it, and by MY wisdom, for I am shrewd.” I am God. I decide what’s right and wrong. MY body, my choice.
THAT’S how idolatry evolves into pride- because we just can’t admit we screwed up. So, Isaiah is dealing with the same spiritual problem that Hosea was, just at a different stage of development. As for us, my brothers and sisters, we just can’t be pleasing to the Lord unless we’re willing to surrender ALL areas of our lives to HIS control. This life has nothing to do with MY power or MY wisdom. Holiness begins with the admission ‘I have no power. I have no wisdom.’ Rather, ANYTHING good that comes from me is inspired by God. And anything good that comes TO me, is a gift of his Grace. And Blessed be God forever.
-Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint
“If I keep my eyes open and my spirit alert, I will live in continual thanksgiving. I am overwhelmed by the memory of so many graces… I will need an eternity to thank you unceasingly. How can I repay you, Lord, for filling my life with so many good things?”
-Venerable Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan
Not to us, LORD, not to us
but to your name give glory
because of your mercy and faithfulness.
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in heaven
and does whatever he wills.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths but do not speak,
eyes but do not see.
They have ears but do not hear,
noses but do not smell.
They have hands but do not feel,
feet but do not walk;
they produce no sound from their throats.
Their makers will be like them,
and anyone who trusts in them.
Psalm 115:1-8 NAB
Questions for Reflection
How are idolatry and pride related?
Consider the example of the girl whose desire leads to abortion, which leads her into pride. How is this manifest in other socially accepted sins? (for example, homosexual acts)
Father demonstrates how pride responds to a fall into sin. How does humility respond?
What are other remedies to this form of pride?
How does Fr. Sisco’s reflection show that idols are “the work of human hands”?
Do you think that idolatry evolves into pride or that pride evolves into idolatry? Why?
How do the makers of idols come to be like the idols they create?
What are some ways that pride can slip into the life of the Christian who has already rejected the major idols of the world?
How can the Christian combat these more subtle manifestations of pride?
How is thanksgiving a remedy for pride?
What are some other passages in Scripture which demonstrate the problem of pride?