At a birthday celebration for Herod,
the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests
and delighted Herod so much
that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.
Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,
he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. (Mt 14:6-10)
“Pride goeth before the fall.” That is a very old saying and one that I learned when I was very young. It may be a very old saying; but, it is just as relevant today as the day it was first coined in the Book of Proverbs.
When people operate out of pride rather than the light of truth, no good thing can come from it.
I am not saying that a person cannot be proud of his or her accomplishments and/or achievements. That kind of pride is healthy. The pride that I am speaking of is the kind of pride that is one of the deadly sins, a sin of superiority. Operating out of that kind of pride, our vision is often clouded and we cannot make the right judgments.
Herod exemplified that in the gospel passage above. He was a proud, vain, and arrogant man. Filled with lust, he was pleased at a dance performed by a young woman. He promised — actually, he declared an oath — that she could have anything up to half of his kingdom. All she had to do was name it.
She asked for the head of John the Baptist.
Herod knew it was wrong. There was nothing about the request that could possibly be deemed proper. Yet, all he cared about was what would happen to his reputation if he went back on an oath.
His arrogant pride led him to choose a greater evil. He ordered the beheading of John the Baptist.
There are times in our lives, perhaps many times, when we, too, are filled with an arrogance and pride that is sinful. There are times that we do and say things to save our reputations even if the things we say and do are wrong. We do so because we think, falsely, that “saving our skins” is more important than doing the right thing.
Right will always be right and wrong will always be wrong. We can never make a wrong right simply because we will it to be. Do not let pride get in the way of doing right today.
FAITH ACTION: Reflect upon the Prayer for the Virtue of Humility as you meditate today.
Lord Jesus, when You walked the earth, Your humility
obscured Your Kingship. Your meekness confused the
arrogant, hindering them from grasping Your purpose,
Your nobleness attending to the destitute. Teach me
to model after Your eminence, to subject my human
nature to humility. Grant me a with a natural inclination
to never view myself greater than anyone. Banish all
lingering sparks of self-importance that could elevate me
greater than You. Let my heart always imitate Your