The Higher We Rise the Further We Fall

Predigt zu Mariä Empfängnis, ca. 1340

Pride, immorality, covetousness, anger—every work of the flesh we must put away.

But that is not enough. Unless we seek God and love him with all our heart, we will never find him.

Like Paul says, even though we spoke with the tongues of Angels, allowed our bodies to be burned, or gave everything to the poor—if we did not love him our works would be in vain.

What good were our pious deeds to God if he did not have our hearts? What might he want with the chaff if another had the wheat?

Certainly all sins must be cut away. But only to stop sinning will get us nowhere. We must lose our inclinations to sin. Pride sticks deep in the heart. Even after we think we have overcome it, pride may come out in the way we dress.

We may cover it up by calling it “neatness.” Or our love of pleasure may convince us of many false “necessities.” We may call our anger and impatience a zeal for justice, or hide our laziness by saying we do not feel well.

Children, if this is what we do—if we smugly justify ourselves while living wrong, the devil will get us. He will certainly get us if we cover our pride under a pious show of humility.

Those that think themselves wise stand under Lucifer’s banner. The higher they stand in their own esteem, the deeper will they fall into the abyss.

Johannes Tauler, ca. 1300-1361, Strasbourg, Alsace, France

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