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Rev Andrew J Demotses


The life of one of the greatest fathers of the Judeo-Christian tradition, Abraham, demonstrated an attitude of Christ like unselfishness. When it became necessary for Abraham and his nephew Lot to go their separate ways, Abraham graciously yielded his position of respect and authority and let his nephew choose the land that he preferred. Abraham said, “If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.” (Gen. 13:9).

Most of the time, however, people tend toward selfishness and ignore St. Paul’s admonition which says “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:4). To prove this we need only to review with honesty our own private thoughts, ambitions, and actions. The wider society around us reflects our attitudes and operates on the principle of selfishness. The person who lets others go first is not regarded as virtuous, but is considered weak.

We need to be mindful of the examples which, while they are the exception to the rule, nonetheless call us to a higher standard of attitude and behavior. One such example was offered by Joseph Turner, the famous landscape painter. A young artist submitted one of his paintings to be hung in a prestigious art exhibit, but the selection committee, of which Turner was a member, rejected it. Turner insisted that the young man’s work be included, but the others denied his pleas, saying that there simply was no room for it. Turner said no more but quietly removed one of his own paintings, replacing it with one by the young artist so that his work would be seen by a wide audience.

Every day, we are each presented with many opportunities to obey St. Paul’s admonition through acts of kindness, by treating others the way we want to be treated, and by putting them first, and ourselves last. That doesn’t mean we neglect our own needs, but that we make the effort to meet the needs of others as well. We “each esteem others better than ourselves.” (Phil. 2:3). This kind of attitude will not turn us into losers, but into winners of a great spiritual reward. –REV. ANDREW DEMOTSES

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