I was sitting in the airport in Copenhagen, Denmark waiting for a return trip back to the USA. In a situation like this, I usually do some people watching to kill some time.
One woman—I think that she was an American—wore a black t-shirt with bold silver lettering that struck my attention. It read: Bling . . . Bling . . . It’s All About Me.
Little things like this tend to get me thinking. I see a homily here somewhere.
Maybe it’s a blessing, sometimes it’s a cross, but my mind usually tries to find something scriptural to which I can relate things and learn some lesson for life. At the time I thought of John the Baptist and the words that came out of his mouth in reference to Jesus: “He must increase; I must decrease." (John 3:30) Maybe I should put that on a t-shirt.
In our lives as Christians there has to be a certain dying to self. All of the bling bling belongs to this world. You can’t take it with you, as they say. (Even if the bling bling is placed in the coffin as it sometimes is, it never quite seems to get to the next world. If it did then the grave robbers of history would have no incentive!)
True happiness, at least as I understand it, comes from trying to care for the needs of others and concentrating less on me. The enlarged and inflamed ego needs to shrink to be healthy and to function properly. Jesus gave us examples of service for us to follow illustrated magnificently by the washing of His disciples’ feet followed by His total self-giving on the cross.
Ego and self-gratification can drive one’s life and lead to destructive self-absorption and ruin, if left unchecked. “I” want more, more, more. “I” have to be the center of attention—constantly. “I” need to get/take the credit for something. “I, I, I . . . me, me, me” tends to dominate the conversation. It’s all about me.
Spiritual growth often occurs when the other person and his/her needs become more important than my own needs, wants and desires. Doesn’t a good parent do this for his/her children? Doesn’t a loving husband anticipate the needs of his wife, and vice versa? Doesn’t the dedicated pastor show loving concern for his parishioners and want to serve their needs? It is at times like these that Jesus is glorified by our imitation of His example of service.
The rector of my seminary used to tell us this in our preparation for priesthood: “A lot of good can be done for the Lord as long as no one cares who gets the credit.” It can’t be all about me as a disciple.
He must increase; I must decrease.
Fr. Ed NamiotkaPastor