And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” ~ Lk 1:46
There are few funnier exemplars of a soul that proclaims its own greatness than The Pink Panther’s Inspector Jacques Clouseau, whose high self-regard is matched (if not exceeded) only by his bumbling ineptitude. No matter how many pianos he destroys, stairs he falls down, or colleagues he shoots, he maintains an air of unruffled superiority.
While we may not embody the comic extremes of the fictional French detective, we do slip easily across the line of self-esteem into the realm of self-promotion. At work, in our relationships, in our daily transactions, we find ways to feed our need for validation and praise: maneuvering so that the boss knows how much we contributed to the project or report, dropping the name of a prestigious alma mater or well-connected friend at a cocktail party, even making sure that our faithful churchgoing impresses others.
In our lives, ’tis a gift to be humble, but not a gift that many of us have. We may, in fact, be so intent on looking at our own magnificent reflection that we fail to focus on the Lord, who is truly worth praising. British mystic Evelyn Underhill wrote, “The human soul cuts rather a ridiculous figure, clutching its own bit of luggage, its private treasures, its position, its personality, its rights, over against the holy self-giving of Absolute Love manifest in the flesh.” When we enter into a time of prayer, we need to forget our small concerns and large egos, and exalt the brilliance and majesty of the mighty one who, as Mary sang, has done great things for us.
Merciful, mighty, saving God, Help me put aside the mirror of self-regard and focus my love and attention completely and wholeheartedly on You. Amen.