While in the seminary, a priest once told our class, “If people applaud you, great; if they don’t, great. Regardless, do not look for human praise. It is the guillotine of saints.”
In a recent interview in Rolling Stone, the radical shock radio talk show host, Howard Stern, admitted to being addicted to human praises. He admitted that he needed to hear, on a daily basis, praise - that he was doing a great job and his programs were awesome. The man, who just signed a one hundred million dollar contract with SIRIUS radio, admitted that he needed to hear from others that he was THE BEST!
“The curse is I take it so seriously. I gotta know, do you think I did a good show and are you satisfied? That’s the neurosis and that’s the source of all problems for me.” (Howard Stern)
It cost him his previous job, it cost him his health and it nearly cost him his mind.
We cannot live like this, by craving the affirmation of others; that we are accepted. We cannot feed from such a fickle tree. This tree is the source of all our problems. It completely ignores the love that God has for each of his children who were created in his image and likeness.
The Lord is the light of the world and the salt of the earth. His speech is more direct and passionate. It is becoming clearer and clearer that the world will not welcome him. God is not welcomed. The Jews have not accepted him and he refuses to accept the human praise that is given to him for it is superficial. Jesus will not become our Emperor, our earthly King! The Lord was given to us for heavenly heights: to testify to the truth.
And what is the truth? That God is not in Heaven and things are not all right on earth! (G.K. Chesterton) The truth is more than just a philosophical concept drawn out from reality. The truth is a person, Jesus Christ. The truth is - not even the truth could save the world!
The Greeks sought after it and attempted to live by it, but in the end, they fell in their old sinful ways and were consumed by it. All who condemned Christ, the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Greeks and the Romans, the magistrates, priests, scribes and soldiers and even the men and women in the market were united for the first time in history in their universal condemnation of the Son of Man! All men rejected THE MAN!
Pontius Pilate, enthroned by men to say what is justice can only ask the Man, “What is truth?” The condemned man is asked to define truth to the enthroned man. Here we have a reversal of roles, of Heaven and Hell, of life and death, of good and bad, of man and God.
Recently, this happened with Jacques Fesch, the killer turned saint. He was condemned to death, guillotined, not out of justice (the murder was not pre-meditated) but out of fear. Fear from the police union that would go on strike if he were pardoned; fear of the crowd from the President of the Republic if he were to pardon him (it was an election year).
In this world turned upside down, the desire for human affirmation is the guillotine of Saints.