On the way of holiness, as soon as we make some progress, a new dreadful danger starts looming over us…
Claire de Castelbajac realized this during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1974: “What an ugly soul I have, and yet, so far, I've been rather satisfied about it!” She reflected on her time in Rome, and received quite the lesson in humility... and she was certain to be a "good person"!
When stepping on the slippery slope of pride, let's reread this Gospel passage in which Jesus speaks right to us:
He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.' But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.' I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” - Luke, chapter 18
The pharisee aren't specific groups of people, like “priests”, “people in power”, or “others”: they are me, they're you, they are each of us throughout our lives. Meditating on this can be a powerful cure against complacency.
A question to ask yourself
Is there spiritual pride in me?
Here is a clue: you are convinced that holiness is a beautiful path, you that I have a duty to sanctify everyone else, and think that you are "a good person” because you make some efforts here and there. You took on the mission to bring the Gospel to others around you.
Is it not the mission of “others”, who you perceive as “less God-loving" but who are nevertheless humbler than you, to teach you the core of the Gospel?
O Lord, point out my small weaknesses to me, show me my shortcomings!
Take a moment to treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart (cf Luke 2,19)
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. Col 4:6