By FR. JOEL GARAVAGLIA-MAIORANO
Special to The Hays Daily News
Watching the national news, one would think politicians believe they deserve to remain in government despite their irrational behavior. I guess getting 51 percent of the vote makes it their right to keep their office, regardless if they lied, stole or sent lewd photos over Facebook.
"You owe me" is a term I often heard growing up in Detroit. Sometimes it came from my friends and other times it was an Italian stereotype depicted in the movies.
Ironically, I have heard it most in the churches I have consulted or served. The body of Christ has become quite adept at telling each other they deserve this and they deserve that. Occasionally after worship, I will have a person inform me in no uncertain terms that "God owes them" for the years they attended Mass/service.
I have relatives who believe the little they gave to the offering plate guarantees them a place in heaven, or at least in purgatory. I have to hold back my desire to become a temporary Calvinist and wonder if they were predestined to be self-centered, or are they really that deceived?
Sadly, this behavior even shows up in church bulletins as forms of indirect communication or pot shots when ministers feel their needs aren't being met. I have witnessed clergy getting bent out of shape when their denominational representatives have not been hired into community positions they felt entitled to. Boundaries get a little muddied and then clergy foolishly say things that represent half-truths.
Entitlement is more than just a political or community notion; it is often intertwined within our conscience. In clinical psychology, an unrealistic, inflated, or rigidly held sense of entitlement might be considered a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder.
Wow, if that's true -- we, the church, might have to ask ourselves if we are becoming narcissistic. Then again, have you ever asked a narcissist if he/she was being vain or acting conceited? The answer most likely would be "no" or "who cares."
As a caring people committed to the Bible, Scripture is quite clear in the matter -- we must give up our life (ego and our need to be right) to be clothed with Christ (Matthew 16:24-25, Galatians 2:20, 3:26-27 and Romans 13:14). Our new clothing puts us into the service of the risen Christ. We become Christ's doulos -- servants or better yet -- slaves.
As such, our covenantal understanding of doulos is best understood in our new freedom from chaos (sin, foolishness, toxic behavior) to become servants/slaves to God. When we become slaves, a term without favor but mostly fitting to best understand our relationship with God, entitlements go bye-bye.
For some, this might be easy, especially if we never had opportunities or special privileges. But when we have and they have been taken away, sometimes unjustly, all Hades breaks loose. It is then, especially at this point, we first call on Christ to hear our prayers and not gripe to our neighbors, co-workers or family members.
Secondly, we attempt to talk with the person who has taken our entitlement (need, desire or right) away, always seeing the face of Christ in both the person(s) and process. Have you ever wondered why these two initial steps seldom happen with Christians?
Sorry to cut this article short, but I have to go. Uncle Vic, my son Giovanni's favorite uncle, is at the front door. He looks pretty irate. Based on my history of seeing that facial expression, I am sure Uncle Vic thinks someone screwed him out of something that he thought was his. Pray for us. It seems entitlement has shown its colors once again.