Jesus spoke this parable to those who believed in their own self-righteousness while holding everyone else in contempt: Two people went up to the Temple to pray: — We know the rest:
Competition: so often this requires that we make every effort to be better than someone – anyone: Competition helps us define ourselves, but we have to find ways in which we can establish that we are better than others – any others. We tend to create little boxes that help define others – intellectually, physically, socially, economically, culturally. Racism, sexism, as well as classism are all symptoms of our need to prove ourselves at the expense of others. Wars are fought and people die every day in order to draw lines of division and separation.
Competition by itself is not always a negative. Sometimes, our competitive urges can drive us to become better persons – to use our failures as moments of learning and motivation. This inner competition within the self can assist all of us to become better persons, concentrating on finding our own gifts and then allowing them to grow – to learn from our mistakes and weaknesses. When we are filled with self-loathing or self-pity, we choose to die spiritually, physically, or intellectually. We give up and then we find others to blame, hate, and spill our anger on them – somehow, it is their fault. We can look down our nose at them and pretend that we are better than they are.
Jesus, throughout the Gospels, tells us of our need to follow his example – to walk with the marginalized, recognizing our common heritage – that we are all brothers and sisters together, children of the one God, called to love one another. We are called to get over our self-absorbtion and to look carefully around our world and to see the miracle of life everywhere and to realize that we are all part of that miracle and each of us has special and unique gifts that are given for the sake of all.
As we remain absorbed with self, we concentrate on the one – the self only and become blind to the world – to creation – to others. We lose our ability to walk with each other, healing and feeding as we are healed and fed with the Spirit of the Christ in the world. Jesus calls us to let go of our blindness so that we can first of all, really love ourselves as we are; secondly, love our neighbors as they really are; and then to love God who lives within us in the love that binds us together as one.
We no longer have to prove that we are better than others or that others are less worthy of God’s love and compassion. We are all alive together on our little planet in the huge Universe and we are called to one life; one spirit and to recognize that we are all expected to grow into our potential as we walk our common journey together, helping each other along the way.
Located in Arlington Heights, IL, Saint Viator High School is a private, co-ed, Catholic school for grades 9-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.