As they followed Jesus through the countryside, the disciples among themselves were discussing about which of them was the greatest. We love them for their simple country-boy ways. Each of us has thoughts about being better than others, but we are sophisticated enough to hide them.
I heard that some Jews base their prohibition against suicide on their self-love. In their view every person sees himself or herself as the center of the world. That is inescapable, since each only knows the world as seen from inside. So, as the rabbis say, your decision to commit suicide would be the same as your consenting to kill off the world that revolves around you.
As good people we do struggle against being self-centered, but it isn’t easy. Recently I heard people discussing Freud’s view of the human personality. They were saying he saw every human personality as composed of a conscious part he called the “Ego” and an unconscious drive he called the “Id”. He said the Ego strives to control behavior morally, while the Id drives us toward self-satisfaction at any price. No matter how much the Ego prays and strives to show regard for others, the very strong Id keeps trying to overcome it with its “Me, me, me!”
I eat alone in restaurants where people keep saying “I” this and “I” that. Yesterday I sat at a table behind a man covered with tattoos. His excessive decorations kept me looking at him, and I couldn’t help hearing what he thought, what he liked, what he wouldn’t stand for. Inside all those tattoos there was a complete preoccupation with the person he called “I.” It’s the same I guess with me when I have an audience. Sanctity must come by forcing ones self to have equal regard for the other “I’s” around us.
Speaking of Jesus, St. Paul said, “His death was a death to sin.” He saved us by his death to sin. Another way of saying that is that he saved us by his dying to selfishness. It will be by the degree to which each of us dies to selfishness that we will be saved.