In the Gospel, we encounter the Nazarenes who after hearing Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah said, “Who is this but Joseph’s son?” They could not believe that this son of a carpenter was teaching them. It seems that crab mentality also existed in Nazareth during the time of Jesus. His own town mates could not accept him first because of their pride. A foreigner would have been easily praised and accepted. Second, they were too selfish – they did not agree that God’s benefits should be shared with others most especially with the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed.
In the first reading, St. John talked about loving God and our brothers and sisters. According to him, we cannot love God if we don’t love our brothers and sisters. But how can we love others if we have pride and selfishness in us? We want to be the first, the best, the most powerful, the most popular – in short, to be at the top to be admired and praised. And if we are on top, we strive to put people down so as to remain on top.
Love is not just a mere word: it becomes meaningful only when it is not ill-mannered nor self-centered. Can we put our name in place of the word “love?” If we can, then, we are true in loving God and our brothers and sisters. But how can we make these expressions of love more tangible in our life? Will it be easy for us to say “You first?”