MESSAGE: Pride leads us to exaggerate our neighbour’s faults and to underestimate and excuse our own. On one occasion Our Lord said to those who were listening to Him, Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye, ‘when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matt 7:3.5). Avoiding negative, and often unjust, judgements on others is a sign of humility. The slightest faults of others are exaggerated by our personal pride, whereas our own perhaps much greater defects are minimised and explained away. Moreover, pride tends to see in others what are really our own imperfections and errors. Hence Saint Augustine gives this wise piece of advice: Strive to acquire the virtues you think your brothers lack, and then you will no longer see their defects, because you yourselves will not have them (St Augustine, Commentary on Psalm 30, 2, 7). Humility on the other hand has a positive influence through a series of virtues which favour a good human and Christian atmosphere in social life. Only the humble man is in a position to forgive, to understand, and help, because he alone realises that he has received everything from God. He is aware of his own wretchedness and how much he himself is in need of the divine mercy. So even when he has to judge, he is understanding towards his neighbour. He finds excuses and forgives whenever necessary. Besides, we have a very limited view of what motivates the actions of others. God alone can penetrate into the most intimate interior of hearts, read minds and grasp the real effect and value of all the circumstances that influence and accompany any action. We must learn to pass over even the obvious and undeniable defects of the people we are with each day, so that we do not keep our distance from them or lose our respect for them because of their mistakes or bad manners. Let us learn from Our Lord, who could not entirely excuse the sin of those who crucified him, but extenuated its malice by pleading their ignorance. When we cannot excuse a sin, let us at least make it worthy of compassion by attributing the most favourable cause we can to it, such as ignorance or weakness (St Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, III, 28). If we make the effort to discover our neighbour’s good points, we shall see that the deficiencies in his character, the defects in his behaviour, are as nothing in comparison with his virtues. This positive, just attitude towards those with whom we are constantly in contact will bring us closer to God. We shall grow in interior mortification, charity and humility. Let us strive always to look at the virtues and good deeds we see in others, Saint Teresa tells us, and cover their defects with the thought of our own great sins. This is a manner of acting that, although we cannot do so with perfection right away, gradually gains for us a great virtue - that of considering all other men as being better than ourselves. In such a way, with the help of God, one begins to acquire this virtue (St Teresa, Life, 13, 10). My Prayer God help me to be humble again. Help me regain my understanding of what life is and how people should be treated with respect. Lord you still are my shepherd.