Back in 1986, Janet Jackson asked this question in a popular song. It seemed to fall in line with a number of other songs from the decade (e.g., Material Girl by Madonna, Need You Tonight by INXS, 1999 by Prince) that dealt in some way with selfishness or egocentricity. It was a time in which people were popularly referred to as the “Me” Generation. One dictionary defined this “Me” Generation the following way: Noun. (Sociology) the generation, originally in the 1970s, characterized by self-absorption; in the 1980s, characterized by material greed.
Jesus Christ is the absolute antithesis of all of this.
As I reflect on the upcoming events of Holy Week, I can’t help but think about what Jesus has done for us. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity who is almighty, omniscient, transcendent, eternal, etc., became limited, finite, tangible and visible for us in the man, Jesus of Nazareth. He was now capable of suffering and dying.
Moreover, He did everything for us. He was born to live among us and to reveal God’s love to us. He gave us the Holy Eucharist as his real abiding presence among us and to feed us spiritually. He suffered and died for us to free us from our sins and to give us eternal life. He rose from the dead to invite us to share in His heavenly glory.
I don’t see an ounce of selfishness or greed here. What did He personally gain? No big ego was at work. He would not be a good contestant for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
St. Paul in his Letter to the Philippians says it so beautifully:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross. (Phil. 2: 6-8)
Obedient, humble, self-giving, and sacrificial are just a few words that come to mind immediately whenever I think about Jesus, His life and actions.
Whenever people look at me and tell me that they can’t find (or is it make?) time for Mass, that God is not really that important for them right now, or that they just don’t care, I sigh from the depths of my being. I think: You don’t get it, do you? How much the Son of God endured and sacrificed on our behalf? What He did for me, for you, for us? It’s sad. Very sad.
Jesus’ words from the cross ring ever true:
Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. (Lk. 23:34)
Fr. Ed Namiotka