Jonathan Antoine has become an overnight sensation in the last week or so due to a stunning performance on the “Britain’s Got Talent” show and of course, thanks to the Internet. A similar situation to that of the amazingly talented Susan Boyle.
This obscure, young 17 year old lad is quite overweight and has been for most of his life. Something that he claims has caused him to be the object of ridicule and torment by his classmates resulting in him dropping out of school. Judge Simon Cowell is wowed by Jonathon’s singing performance and suggests that Jonathan ditch his partner who doesn’t seem to be quite as mesmerizing in her abilities. The exchange between Simon and Jonathan reminded me of Jesus’ encounter with Satan atop the hill, who promised him vast kingdoms if he would bow down and worship him.
Simon says “Jonathan you are unbelievable” “you have an outstandingly good voice” “you are a future star”. He expresses worry that Charlotte is “going to hold him back” and suggests that he “dump her”. Jonathan’s response to Simon was quite remarkable for a young 17 year old. He took a stand instead of just letting Simon opine and said “we’ve come on here as a duo and we’re going to stay here as a duo”
Other than Jonathan’s obvious talent, noteworthy were his endearing humility and his loyalty to his partner in performance, Charlotte Jaconelli, 16. He exemplified maturity by taking a stand for her and being faithful in light of an opportunity for fame and fortune. At that moment, I guess he remembered she was one who supported him when others shunned him. His plight had rendered him a kid without self esteem and confidence; a kid who had to drop out of school not once but twice and who eventually had a nervous breakdown. However, his unfortunate life experiences made him more aware and appreciative of someone who was ready, willing and able to take a stand for him and now it was his turn to reciprocate. In humility, he didn’t succumb to thinking of his achievements and possible fame but instead looked at the other person’s needs, desires and feelings before making an unselfish decision to continue in partnership – even if it cost him the prize. Now that’s fidelity!
We are surrounded by people who ditch someone – often a spouse, pursuing a “better” career, life, body, marriage, partner – you name it – nullifying all the sacrifice and commitment of the former partner during the earlier tough times. Fame and fortune or the promise or perception of these, can often cause us to let go of people and principle. Interestingly enough, this week also generated tremendous excitement and buzz, over the largest jackpot in lottery history. Past winners however, complained about the opposite problem – that of being overwhelmed with family and friends they never knew existed before they were “rich”!
With Good Friday almost upon us, I am reminded about the struggles a couple of Jesus’ disciples had in being faithful to their friend and master. Judas succumbed to the glitter of silver and handed his friend over to be crucified. Peter was worried about his own safety and therefore denied any association with Jesus. In the garden of Gethsemane, the favorite apostles wanted some sleep and so could not heed Jesus’ need for comfort and company.
I have had the misfortune of experiencing the excruciating pain of being betrayed by people I trusted. Not an easy adjustment to say the least! So what would possess someone to betray one’s confidence and trust? I believe it stems from a lack – which creates a “need” and therefore a “want”. A need to feel validated, to be heard, to feel superior (by putting someone else down), or even to feel safe – like Peter when he denied Jesus. Judas’ behavior seems like the ultimate in greed and we are therefore likely to think we wouldn’t be the same. However, the sleepy response of Jesus’ friends in the garden seems much like something I could do myself especially if I justify it with my compromised safety and overwhelming fatigue.
The trick then is analyzing our needs and wants. Do these overrule the value of our relationships? Fidelity, we can deduce, is a manifestation of unselfishness. If Peter and James and John and Judas were not thinking in terms of their own fatigue or safety or greed, being faithful would be effortless.
In preparation for Easter, here are a few relationship questions I’d like us to mull over:
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