Homily for The Baptism of Our Lord
I was listening to a podcast called Catholic Things You Should Know. It is run by two priests. One of the priests tells a story about the time he was in a grocery store. Behind his was a mother with a girl about 8-years old who was dressed in a soccer uniform. The conversation went like this:
- Mom: How many goals did you score today?
- Girl: Oh, I don’t know. Maybe 3.
- Mom: You scored 6!
- Girl: Well, I think Jenny scored a few.
- Mom: Jenny. Jenny doesn’t score. You score. And by the way. Stop passing the ball to her all of the time. You’re too nice to her. She’s not a scorer. You’re a scorer. Keep the ball yourself.
The priest said that he wanted to turn to the mom and say, “Lady, you should open a Health Savings Account for your daughter because she is going to be in therapy for the rest of your life.”
The irony is that this priest said that he is a terribly competitive person. In fact, he related the story where a group of seminarians and priests had downloaded a running and cycling app called Strava. The ended up becoming so focused on beating each other that they stopped talking to one another and started arguing about the scores at the dinner table. The seminary Rector eventually had to intervene.
Satan uses two items to have humans begin to beat upon themselves. They are polar opposites. He wants humans to fall into the twin tumors of:
- Self-aggrandizement or hypercompetitiveness
- Self Loathing or fear of failure
A self-aggrandizing personality typically manifests itself in hyper-competitiveness. They need to be perfect academically, emotionally, spiritually, physically or a combination of all of them. Naturally, they will eventually fail. Then the person will switch into self-loathing. They’ll tell themself, “I am a bad person. I am no good.” This scrupulosity not only manifests itself into a competitive spirit, but it also becomes, “All about me. Not only do I need to be better, but I’ve also got to be the one to do it.” This begins to be a mode of life in the person’s relation with God, spouse, and kids. Everything is done within a competitive spirit. In classical theology, this is called “Angelism.”
Contrast this with Jean Vanier. He was a Canadian Catholic philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian. In 1964, he founded L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 countries, for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them.
In his book, Becoming Human, Vanier relates that hyper-competitiveness is a foreign concept with people with disabilities. They simply don’t understand why someone has to win and someone has to lose. What is their attitude?
What does that look like?
- God is good
- You are good
- I am thankful
- I am in relationship
- It’s about Providence. It’s about what I have received
- Even growing in my gifts is grace. The training materials, the ability … all received
Daily U from NoSidebar.com has a way to guide us on our journey away from self-loathing/self-aggrandizement and more towards an attitude of gratitude. Look at her article, End Your Year Intentionally With These 10 Questions.
- Read through the list.
- Take just one question.
- Take that question to prayer.
- Ask the Lord for insights.
- See where the Lord takes you as you work on just that one item.
“Daisy U” from noinsider.com provides a good place to start. In her article, “End Your Year Intentionally With These 10 Questions,” she provides something to reflect upon in looking back upon 2019. Take just one of theses questions that you find intriguing, challenging, difficult or worth celebrating. Take it to the Lord in prayer. If it is challenging, ask him to bury it in the waters of Baptism. If it is worth celebrating, ask him to raise it up and anoint it.