What a scene!
Jesus is in a house….teaching…surrounded by people…men, women, children.
They are amazed at his words, his kindness, his insights, his power.
Before long, his family shows up, asks for him.
Out of love, out of respect and honor, surely Jesus will stop what he is doing
and receive them with an embrace…make room for them in the front row.
But wait. He does something unexpected. He doesn’t get up and push through all the people.
He stays seated. He turns to the crowd. Gives them his attention.
He looks at them intently and says “you are my family.”
I can only imagine sitting in that crowd of people…
the feeling that would come over me…hearing such words from this great prophet.
I am important. Jesus just said I was important. I’m special in his sight.
I now know who I am and it’s wonderful. My life has just become so much better.
I belong somewhere. I’m more important to Jesus than his own family.
He’d rather be with me than be with them.
Wait till I tell my friends. Wait till I share this news with my neighbors.
They’ll “ooh” and “ahh”. They’ll be impressed. They might even want my autograph.
Whenever the story is told, I’ll be able to say “I was there…in the house that day.”
I’m going to be famous. People will stop me on the streets and say “you lucky dog!”
They’ll come up to me and say “see if you can get me a private audience with your new brother.”
Let me put this another way…one with a modern day twist:
Jesus is a famous movie star and I’ve just been welcomed into his inner circle.
I’ll take selfies with him to show to my family and friends….who will no doubt be impressed.
I’ll be the center of attention at parties as I tell the story over and over again.
I’ll be asked to speak at public events. People will insist I go to the front of the line.
They’ll stop whatever they are doing and defer to my needs in the moment.
They’ll ask for my advice and counsel. They’ll interview me for the evening news.
My social status has been bumped up a few notches. I’m one of the important people now.
I hope by now you’ve caught my drift.
This imaginary but all too real response brings to the surface one of the greatest dangers
that can be encountered in the Christian spiritual life:
exaggerated self-importance, inflated ego, self-aggrandizement, self-promotion,
excessive, self-engrossed concern, pride, spiritual narcissism.
The Christian spiritual journey is a movement toward humility, toward self-sacrifice, toward the cross.
Along the way, anyone who says “you’ll be important and special in the eyes of God
if you become my friend, if you defer to my wishes, if you become part of my group,
accept me as your guide, center your life on my charisma and on my spiritual experiences….”
this person is inflating your ego for his/her own purposes….not God’s purposes.
For your own spiritual good, turn around and run away as fast as you can.
Such a person is not interested in doing God’s will
no matter how much they insist this what they are doing.
They are interested in doing their own will.
The Christian spiritual life is about discerning and participating in God’s will.
Our prayer today: “O Lord, help me to sacrifice my will for the sake of accomplishing Your will. Help me to be patient with the process of being shaped by your grace instead of being shaped by the flattery of others. Amen!”
Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales
What a scene!