Are you concerned with getting your props? What?
Getting your props is a slang expression that basically means getting the respect you deserve. For example, someone may say that Eli Manning has gotten his props ever since he won his second Superbowl and was once again the Most Valuable Player in the Superbowl. Only foolish teams, like the ones in Tampa Bay and in Carolina would not give Eli his props and would think that their defenses could stop him.
This expression is best exhibited in that piece of classic music by Showbiz and A. G. called Forty Acres and My Props, highlighted by that profound line:
Gimmie my props, yo, more than a cop yo, till I master hip-hop, I won’t stop…………yo.
Now, before you start writing the Bishop and telling him that I have gone around the bend, and you might be right, just notice that people through all three of our readings (Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37) this weekend are concerned with getting their props.
The wicked in the first reading, from the Book of Wisdom, hate the just one because instead of respecting them he reproaches them for transgressing the Law of God and violating their training as ministers of God. They weren’t getting their props. The argument against the just one that they voice with such intense hatred is the same argument voiced with equal hatred that would lead the priests, scribes and Pharisees to demand that Jesus be put to death. Jesus continually challenged them to return to a pure worship of God. But instead of listening to Him, they plotted to have him killed, and as quickly and as painfully as possible.
Jesus told his disciples that this would happen in the first part of Mark’s Gospel reading, but the disciples were too busy considering who was the greatest among them. Each was looking for respect from the others. Each was demanding his own props. Finally, Jesus had enough of this talk. He turned the tables on them. He called over a child, and he said, “You want to be great? Well, take care of a child.” Now, changing diapers and wiping running noses did not seem to them to be the work of a great person. Don’t the high up in society hire someone to do that for them? But this is the work of the great in the Kingdom of God. For in the Kingdom of God anyone who wishes to be first, had to be last of all and a servant to all.
“Where jealousy and self ambition exist there is disorder and every foul practice,” St. James warns. He goes on to say that wars, conflicts, and every sort of evil flow from an attitude that makes continual demands on others. The apostle James had learned the lesson that he was taught in today’s Gospel when he was just a follower of the Lord. True wisdom is pure, peaceful, compliant, full of mercy and good fruit, and without inconsistency or insincerity. The fruit of this type of selfless wisdom is peace.
We are all too concerned with getting the respect we think we are due in society, be that society in general, or the society of our home, workplace or school. We are more concerned with what others are saying or even thinking about us then we are concerned with who we are. Parents have a right to respect from their children, honoring your father and mother is the Fourth Commandment, but parents earn that respect by caring for their children not by making unreasonable demands for no reason other than their own self-gratification. People in authority over us at work, or in society, have a right to our respect, but only to the degree that they are exercising their authority in a just manner. We may have to put up with a boss who is unjust and endure him until he is replaced or we find another job, but we respect the boss who treats everyone fairly. Those who are still going to school often give far too much deference to popular classmates or to the members of an athletic team, or even to the top students.
Who are the best people in the school? For that matter, who are the best people at work? Who are the best people in your family? Who are the best people in our society? The best people are those who are kind, compassionate, just, full of mercy and all those good things that James wrote about in today’s second reading.
Maybe we need to think about some of those grudges we still hold on to so tightly. “Who did she think she is, talking to me like that?” So many of our grudges come from our conviction that we were not treated with the respect we felt we had a right to, be that from a boss, a neighbor, a distant relative or even a member of our immediate family.
We are very wrong when we behave in that manner. The way of the Christian is not the way of being concerned with what he thinks he has coming to him. We are Christians. The basic attitude of our relationship with others must be that of Jesus Christ. His way was the way of service. Christianity is not a popularity contest. It is a contest of service. The Christian is not concerned with getting his props. He is concerned with giving God His props.
At the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer the priest and deacon hold up the Blessed Sacrament and proclaim: Through Him and with Him and in Him, O God Almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever. All answer, Amen. That is both an affirmation of the miracle of the Eucharist and a proclamation that the only glory and honor we need to be concerned with is that which we give to God. That is the way of Jesus Christ. That is the way of the Christian.
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta wrote or at least edited a prayer for her sisters, and really for us, to help us understand what really we need to be concerned with in life:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.