Why not take some time to reflect on Sunday’s gospel?
I realised recently that I had become middle aged without even noticing when I heard myself recently criticizing some of the younger priests around. I was commenting to others on how some of them seemed to have a greater sense of entitlement than they had of service. And then I drew myself in and wondered did I really say that, and then what did the older priests say of my own generation when we were young.
I know of course that those kinds of attitudes are not exclusive to the clergy. The group other than priests that I know best are teachers and I often hear some of them commenting critically on the younger members of the profession in a similar way.
A sense of entitlement lies behind Jesus critical word in Luke’s gospel. Having won them over then takes the people to task firstly because their familiarity binds them to his identity. More than that, he holds up a mirror to them and many do not like what they see. Their inflated sense of entitlement gets in the way of their spiritual growth. They know that they indeed are God’s chosen ones but he reminds them in a provocative way that God has often acted in favr of others when their ancestors were in need. The Sidonian woman was favored whilst Israel starved; the only leper cured was the Syrian, a true outsider. Their sense of entitlement was challenged and rather than being humbled they responded with fury.
Today if anything could improve the Church it would be a diminishing of any sense of entitlement and corresponding growth the awareness of the need for humility and true service. For that to happen our prejudices need to be challenged, we are no better than others, and they are loved equally God. What comes to us from God comes not because we deserve or have earned, it speaks not of our goodness but of God’s. That realisation will surely extinguish any misplaced sense of entitlement we have and humble us in the sight of others.