We celebrated the funeral of a parishioner this week, and it got me to thinking about the important things in life. It is always amazing that people waste so much time worrying about, arguing about and complaining about things that, when you are honest, are not really that important. I guess it is part of what we call "human nature", but I think it is one of the darker parts. Perhaps it is what are referred to as the effects of "original sin" that I learned about as a child. A lot of times we approach people, situations etc. expecting the worst instead of the best. When we do, we focus on what is wrong and not what is right. This leads us to give them more importance than they deserve.
You see it all the time. Employees and employers think that they are on opposite sides. Politicians think that "no compromise" is a good thing. Athletes have to be the star, with the rest of the team as supporting players. Actors will only appear if they have top billing in a film. A neighbor becomes the "attack dog" instead of a watchdog to insure nothing damages the all-holy property values. Teachers and parents see each other as adversaries instead of partners in the educational process.
What it all points to is selfishness, an overwhelming focus on self. This is, I believe, one of the most destructive and evil ways of acting for human beings. And it is certainly not what leads us to being a productive member of society, much less a child of God. How different the world would be if we focused on what we have in common instead of our differences. If we spent more time loving instead of hating. If we expected the best of ourselves and everyone else.
At the funeral this week, everyone spoke of all the good this man had done, the ways he had shown love for family, friends, community and country. Like all people, he was not perfect, but he was remembered for what he did right, not what he did wrong. When we die, the only thing that people will want to remember is the good we accomplished for others. Why then, should we spend time and energy being negative and selfish? My favorite prayer each morning is "Lord, help me do some good today. Help me see you in the people I will meet. And help me not make a fool out of myself in front of you when I meet you in them. Amen."
"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."