At Mass this past Sunday there were two baptisms, an unusual occurrence. There were a few good-natured (and not-so-good-natured) groans and sighs as people anticipated Mass running twenty minutes longer. One fellow, however, who entered with his young grand-daughter, was a little more emotional.
“My G_d, this is not what I come to Mass for! Baptisms!”
He was steamed, and those of us around him were more than uncomfortable. I guess his indignation built during the readings, because he left during the homily and did not return.
My initial reaction was to criticize. After all, if all I do on Sunday is make it to Mass, then I have had a successful day. But something else occurred to me. I saw myself in his “righteous indignation”.
How many times have I become impatient when the actions of others threatened to disrupt my carefully planned day?
How many times have I become indignant when people did things to inconvenience me or were inconsiderate of my feelings?
How many times have I walked out of a store or restaurant with an attitude of “they don’t deserve my business if they’re going to do that?”
Now, of course, we should not feel obligated to bring our business to establishments that don’t provide satisfactory service, but how much of those feelings were a result of an attitude of over-inflated self-importance?
That kind of anger, that kind of ego; those are dangerous feelings to nurture. When we cloak our egos in righteous indignation, those egos become stronger, infecting the rest of our life, and they can even raise their ugly faces during the most holy of moments.