Let the other be First
‘Season of Lent’ is a time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving in preparation for the Easter. On the first Friday of this Lenten season, the Church invites us to understand ‘fasting’ in its right way. The text from the Book of Isaiah is giving certain guidelines to observe the day of fast in life. They include loosing the bonds of injustice, undoing the thongs of the yoke, sharing bread with the hungry, sheltering the homeless poor, clothing the naked and mending our relations with the others. The underlying motivational principle for all these actions is, namely, to ‘let the other be first.’ The needs of the other must take precedence over mine. The world around us is moving ahead with an egoistic ‘I-Me-Mine’ attitude. One is concerned only with his/her own benefit in his/her relationship both with God and brethren. The Prophet is warning us that even in our prayer and fasting we are serving only our own interests (Is 58:3).
Paul and John were brothers. Once their mother gave two pieces of cake in the hands of John. He in turn gave the small piece to his brother. Paul, being offended, said to his brother, “If it was me, I would have kept only the small piece with me and gave the big to you.” John replied, “And you got the same.”
Going with the trend in the society, everyone is trying to look for one’s benefits and comforts. So St. Paul warns us to look not for one’s own benefits but the interest of others (Philip 2:4). Paul gives the example of Jesus who emptied himself without caring for the equality with God the Father. And Jesus demands the same attitude from each one of us. That is why Jesus had to confront many times the Pharisees and Sadducees as we see from the Gospel of Mathew. Jesus always tried to convince them that the true worship is to give importance to the needs of the other.
Let us get out of our ‘ego-zone’ and place ‘the other first’ in our life. Let the interest of others and their good take priority in our lives. Let their joy may be our joy, their sorrows be ours too.
Fr. Johnson Bezalel CMI