Luke 14:1, 7, 12-14
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table….
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
In his brief three years of public ministry, our Lord Jesus the Christ again and again warned against the sin of pride and grandiosity, aka narcissism, and exhorted us to be humble.
The Old Testament, too, sounded the same warning and exhortation in the Book of Sirach, commonly called the Wisdom of Sirach — a work of ethical teachings, from approximately 200 to 175 B.C., written by Ben Sira of Jerusalem, and the largest wisdom book from antiquity to have survived.
My child, conduct your affairs with humility,
and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,
and you will find favor with God.
The opposite of humility is narcissism or grandiosity — the exaltation and excessive love of self, making ourselves “as gods”. As such, narcissism is an offense against God because it violates the first of the Ten Commandments:
“I am the Lord your God:
you shall not have strange gods before me.”
As American culture becomes increasingly corrupt, it’s no accident that studies testify to a corresponding increase in narcissism “across the board,” in the words of San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge, the author of Generation Me (Free Press, 2006).
Twenge wrote that narcissism and one of its behavioral manifestations — entitlement — among college students had increased steadily and dramatically since 1979:
What we really have is a culture that has increasingly emphasized feeling good about yourself and favoring the individual over the group. And that has happened across the board, culturally, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. I have a 14-month-old daughter, and the clothing available to her has ‘little princess,’ or ‘I’m the boss,’ or ‘spoiled rotten’ written on it. This is what we’re dressing our babies in. Schools have programs designed to boost self-esteem. Parents say things like, ‘You shouldn’t care what other people think of you.’ We’re inundated with the notions of ‘feeling special,’ ‘believing in yourself’ and ‘be anything you want to be.’
For that reason, Twenge coined the term “iGeneration” (“i” as in both iPod and “me, me, me”) for the Millennials — those born in the general range of 1981 to 1999.
It is also no accident that the cultural rot and increase in narcissism “across the board” are accompanied by a dramatic increase in overt and coarsened sexuality, which permeats everything.
In a 1992 encyclical, Pastores Dabo Vobis, St. John Paul II explained the cause-and-effect connection between narcissism (the adulation of the self) and an unrestrained and degraded sexuality “reduced to nothing more than a consumer good”:
In this case, many young people undergo an affective experience which, instead of contributing to a harmonious and joyous growth in personality which opens them outward in an act of self-giving, becomes a serious psychological and ethical process of turning inward toward self, a situation which cannot fail to have grave consequences on them in the future. In the case of some young people a distorted sense of freedom lies at the root of these tendencies. Instead of being understood as obedience to objective and universal truth, freedom is lived out as a blind acquiescence to instinctive forces and to an individual’s will to power.… On the religious level, such a situation, if it does not always lead to an explicit refusal of God, causes widespread indifference and results in a life which, even in its more significant moments and more decisive choices, is lived as if God did not exist.
It is also no accident that all of these “Do As Thou Wilt” — a Satanic motto — cultural indicators are accompanied not just by the tolerance, but the celebration of homosexuality and so-called transgenderism.
Psychiatrist Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, with more than 35 years of clinical experience treating homosexuals, including homosexual priests, said in a 2011 interview that “Narcissism — a personality disorder in which an insatiable need for admiration often leads to attention-seeking behavior — is prevalent among men who struggle with homosexuality.”
And what’s the antidote to narcissism?
Not love of self, but the right kind of love — loving the God who humbled Himself by dying on the cross for our sins, with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.
For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
May the peace and love and humility of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,