23rd September, 2012 Readings: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Me first! Me first! Me first! I’m the number one kid kiasu!”
Rather random, this line came to me as I was thinking about what to share on this week’s readings. This line is from a primary school musical about a girl who wanted everything first, and has somehow stayed with me through the years (lol I blame the catchy tune). I wouldn’t count myself as kiasu, but reflecting on my past few weeks, I think I was living out the ‘me first!’ attitude to life.
This Sunday, Jesus speaks to us about selfishness and pride, as He continues to challenge us to live out an authentic Christian life. For the past two months, I’ve been swamped with commitments – Sojourn, time for friends and family, a lot of meetups, and of course, the new job. Add to that – a couple of tense episodes with people. It was easy to slip into selfishness. Unconsciously, my thoughts revolved around how much time I’ve sacrificed for things, how my commitments mattered more, how alone I felt in my crazy schedule. In conflict, I was insistent on my views being ‘the right ones’, and even as I tried to compromise and give in for the sake of making peace, I did so rather grudgingly. In some sense, I think I’ve been answering the question the disciples were arguing about (Who’s the greatest?) with a resounding ‘ME’.
Selfishness can come in many forms – it could be in refusing to help a colleague out so that we can get ahead at work; not helping your mum out with a simple chore because the things you have to do are more important; or refusing to budge in an argument because our opinions matter more. Whatever the form, the root of selfishness is a preoccupation with self. In the Second Reading, St James reminds us that jealousy and selfish ambitions lead to disorder and conflict, and instead tells us about living out God’s wisdom to bear the fruits of peace, mercy and gentleness. In the Gospel, Jesus provides this wisdom; this cure to selfishness – to be the last of all and servant of all – humility and selflessness. He invites you and I to put aside our preoccupation with self, and to put on His mind and heart instead. In the lyrics of the hymn ‘Prayer of St Francis Xavier’, Jesus reminds us to seek to console than to be consoled, to understand than to be understood, and to love with all our souls than to be loved. He challenges us to think of our neighbour, rather than of ourselves.
If we have experienced and are convicted of God’s love for us, this love moves us and changes us from within. At the heart of it, our faith is always lived out in relation to another and God calls us to be life-giving in our relationships and for our lives to be a reflection of His love. How are we to give life to another if all we think about first is ourselves? How are we able to serve another or live out Christian values of understanding, care and love? How are we able to give generously of our time and presence to build up another person?
So as Jesus challenges me to be more generous in giving of myself and to consider the other in all things, perhaps He’s extending the same invitation to you 🙂 I pray that we all may be more life-giving in our relationships!