Don't Worry About Status
“You do not regard a person’s status.…”
The Pharisees and Herodians had sized up Jesus accurately—at least in this regard. Cultural anthropologists tell us that in the cosmopolitan Mediterranean world of Jesus’ day, status and honor were extremely important. Yet Jesus showed no interest in them at all. This was one of the aspects of the so-called “divine reversal” that Jesus brought into the world.
Disregard for status, however, didn’t catch on quickly in the Christian community. For we find both James and Paul having to admonish their flocks for choosing the first places and failing to share their sumptuous meals (see Jas 2:1–9; 1 Cor 11:17–22). Competition for status seems ingrained in the human psyche. Even centuries after Christ—and in a democratic society—the problem still remains.
We followers of Jesus need to be alert to the danger of striving to be successful in the eyes of others. For example, if we are doing well financially and use our money responsibly—perhaps providing for aging parents, giving our children a good education and contributing to Church and civic causes—we may believe we’re doing everything we should. But what will Jesus say when we appear before him? He might ask: “How much love did you put into all that?” Someone with almost no means but more loving concern may be doing much more for his or her dependents than a person of “status” with his or her large gifts of money.
Sunday Mass can be a great leveler, especially in city parishes. Everybody is there. (Remember that description of the Church: “Here comes everybody!”) Packed into those pews are the rich and the poor, the famous and the unknown, the educated and the simple, the descendant of the Pilgrims and the newest immigrant. Among them are many holy souls, but we don’t know which ones they are.
It’s food for thought.
Jesus, it seems that status is a necessary evil in our world (perhaps an aspect of rendering to Caesar). Please help me to remember, however, that your standards are far different from those of our culture. In reality, your standards are the only ones that matter. Help me, insofar as I can, to treat each person with respect, recalling that everyone has been created in your image. Each person reflects different aspects of you. Each is like a musical note or chord, and together all of us can make a symphony.
Lord, I want to shine in your eyes.
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 152–153). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.