Saturday, January 8, 2011

The constant struggle.

The gospel today ends with the words of John the Baptist, "He must increase; I must decrease."  His disciples are concerned that more people are going to Jesus to be baptized. While it seems petty to us and we may look at the disciples of John and think that we would never be like that, the reality is that we are.

As human beings we face the constant temptation to turn in on ourselves.  We can only perceive what our senses allow us to perceive. We cannot step outside ourselves, and truly see as God sees.  As Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians reminds us, now we see only a poor reflection.

Over and over we are reminded in the gospels of the paradox, as Matthew puts it, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." Like John the Baptist, we must decrease, and allow Christ to increase in us.  That means a constant self monitoring, for attitudes and actions that reveal a self-centeredness, the subtle ways that we ask "What do I get out of this?" or "Why should I have to help them?" or "What about me and my family?"

Even something as simple as the way we drive can be selfish.  "Why won't this person get out of my way?"  or "I'm stuck in traffic", as if the traffic is everyone on the road but you.  Wake up. You are part of the traffic!

The myriad of tiny ways that we make ourselves the center of the universe.

The good news is that each time we catch ourselves in one of these thoughts, it is an opportunity for us to recenter ourselves on Christ, and to make the constant choice to decrease.