Sense of Entitlement,
Dipinto da Joanna Braithwaite (born 1962),
Dipinto nel 2016,
Olio su tela,
© Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney
Signore, non sono degno di averla sotto il mio tetto.
Quando Gesù entrò a Cafarnao, un centurione si avvicinò e lo supplicò. "Signore", disse, "il mio servo giace a casa sua paralizzato e soffre molto". Verrò io stesso e lo curerò", disse Gesù. Il centurione rispose:Signore, non sono degno di averla sotto il mio tetto.; just give the word and my servant will be cured. For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man: Go, and he goes; to another: Come here, and he comes; to my servant: Do this, and he does it.' When Jesus heard this he was astonished and said to those following him, 'I tell you solemnly, nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this. And I tell you that many will come from east and west to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.'
Riflessione sulla pittura
What a display of faith by the Centurion! He was non Jewish, a pagan and yet he spoke the words that he was 'not worthy'. These are very counter-cultural words in today's society where the culture of entitlement reigns supreme. To feel entitled, means to feel we deserve to have certain things, certain rights, certain privileges. For people who feel entitled, the whole world revolves around what they want, what they need, what they feel they are owed. The cries of entitlement are 'my way', 'I want', 'I can't accept', 'my rights', 'I deserve', etc… But this is not something new. Many Jews in Jesus' time felt they were entitled to special blessings from God just because they were Jewish: we read about the Pharisees and Scribes feeling entitled to certain privileges, special seats at the table, titles,… So the culture of entitlement is not just a 21st century phenomenon.
Today's Gospel reading directly confronts the culture of entitlement. If we truly mean each time we say 'Lord I am not worthy' during mass, then surely we start seeing the world around us as a gift to us… moving us away from thinking we deserve to get everything on offer.
Our painting by New Zealand artist Joanna Braithwaite is titled Sense of Entitlement. It shows a bird getting a bit too big for his boots, with inflated self admiration. The small bird perched on his hat is depicting the true size of him and how he once was. This painting conveys very well how the small bird grew in arrogance, believing he deserved certain privileges. But today's reading of the Centurion is calling us to be humble as people of faith.
Maybe the answer lies in us needing to discern between what we want and what we actually need. If our decisions in life are too much based around what we want and not around what we need or need to do for others, then we may well soon fall in the trap of entitlement ourselves.
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