I used to feel badly for my brother. When we were both in school together, we were often compared, and usually not in an uplifting way for him. Teachers would say to him, “Why can’t you be more like your brother.” Well, he wasn’t me, and the picture was entirely different for a couple of reasons. First, I was a year older, and academics were simply not as challenging for me as they seemed to be for him. Second, I was more withdrawn; quiet, studious, introverted. My brother on the other hand was not really into schoolwork or reading. He liked sports and physical activity of any sort. He was athletic and more than anything, he was gregarious. He made friends incredibly easily…he was open and friendly, and people really liked him. He didn’t need to be “like” me at all. In his own right he was his own person. Comparisons between us, were ultimately as meaningless as they were unhelpful. Indeed, if anything, such comparisons were always hurtful, especially to him. More often than not, when a teacher said such a thing to him, it wasn’t to encourage or support, but rather to criticize and condemn.
Now that I am older, I have had such experiences. To a certain extent, it is normal for people to make comparisons, so when you work in a parish, it isn’t surprising to be compared with a previous pastor. For the most part, I am neither offended, nor delighted in such comparison, because I understand its futility. What does concern me from time to time, is when such comparisons are made not as a matter of positive observation, or to be helpful, but with the intent to do harm. It says much more about the person making the comparison than it does about those being compared.
So why do we all do it? Comparison really is a lose/lose proposition. In this sermon we’ll explore how God’s grace is open to all of God’s children, (each and every one of whom He loves!), no matter what we think of them, or how we’d compare them to ourselves.