Our culture influences us to be number one. We want to get into the best college, get the best grades, get the best job, and get the best salaries. We strive for the best things in life: the best family, the best house, the best car, and the best mobile phone. All of these are good of course as it drives us towards excellence. God placed this characteristic in us so we do great things. We, however, must be careful that we don’t get too ingrained in this “me” culture-of-being-best that it affects our spiritual life where we must come second.
If Christ is our King, then he should always come first in our lives. Everything is ordered to him – our decisions, our purchases, our love life, our professional life – everything. If he is our king, then we live in a kingdom, not a democracy. We don’t have voting power to overrule his teachings or commandments. When God determines an act to be sinful or immoral, we can’t lobby in congress or in the Senate to overturn the decision. It simply just doesn’t work that way. If God is in first place, we can only accept what he gives us or teaches us, or command us to do.
People with sinful pride can never accept second place; they must always come first. They either usurp God’s rightful position, become their own god, and relegate God into second place – perhaps, even, the last place. Or they totally dismiss him altogether saying there is no such thing as God.
Being second was repugnant to the fallen angels, so they rebelled and separated themselves from God. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit so that they will be like gods. It seems they were offended that they couldn’t determine for themselves what is good and evil. (Genesis 3:4-5) It is this rebellion that creates chaos in the natural order of things.
Humility is needed to accept second place. The word humility comes from the word “humus,” which means “earth.” We cannot but recall Adam whose name comes from the Hebrew adamah, which means earth because God created him from the soil of the earth. It reminds us that we are but mere creatures, not gods. There is a hierarchy and we are not on top: God is.
We can combat pride through prayer. The act of praying reminds us there is someone above us. It ingrains in us a sense of dependence on a higher being. We can also combat pride by obedience to the Ten Commandments and the precepts of the Church. The act of obeying someone other than us chisels our pride away and transforms it to humility.
Now, here is the beautiful crazy thing: in Catholicism, the Church is the bride of Christ. It is “one-flesh” with him. So if we put him in first place, by virtue of our oneness with him, we too are in first place – not in nature or authority, but in the sharing of his divine life. What more can a mere creature, made from the dust of the earth, ask if not to live the life of his creator who is supremely superior in every way. It is only in humbling ourselves that we can achieve anything like this. It becomes clear what Christ says, “those who are last will be first, and those who are first will be last.”
Learn more about Mary in the book A Sky Full of Stars, where each title of the Litany is explained to understand Mary. Readers in the Philippines may get the paperback version here. Those in the USA can get the Kindle or paperback version here. Those in other countries can check the closest country where it is available here.
Joby finished Theology courses from the University of Notre Dame. He is a contributing writer at www.catholic365.com, and teaches in the De La Salle College of St. Benilde where he engages students in conversations about religion, pop-culture, and food.
Whether or not you are new to the Catholic Church, or struggling, or lapsed, or dynamically involved, this book will enlighten you with the essentials of the Faith that have been handed down to us by the apostles.
100 Things Every Catholic Should Know covers what it is we believe in the Creed, how grace configures us to Christ in the sacraments, how we worship in the liturgy, how we connect to God in prayer, how Mary and the saints fit in in all of this, and how we are part of Christ’s Mystical Body – the Church.
Each of the 100 topics is easy to read and distilled into bite-sized portions. Through cross-referencing, the book also shows how the topics are interrelated. Those who are new to the Faith will find this book an edifying handy reference, and those who have simply forgotten will find it a great review material that might spark a new love for God and religion.