Jimmy White ’13, ’18 MTS

I admit I am a people-pleaser, but certainly this predisposition has its strengths. I strive to make peace, avoid conflict, and harmonize relationships because I want others to be happy. Still, as good as these strengths are, I realize the weakness of being a people-pleaser is that, alongside the willing the good of the other, I want others to be happy with me.

Last spring, I submitted a final paper with which I was satisfied. My professor, more than content with my writing, still encouraged me to revise the paper for publication. I weakly resisted but caved. I spent up until the last day before the autumn term reworking my paper, hoping my professor would be pleased, not only with my writing but more so with me.

When we go too far to please others at the cost of our well-being, we accomplish very little. Whether by our efforts we please or disappoint, inevitably there will be one more request to answer.

Imagine the displeasure and unhappiness felt at the River Jordan. Luke tells us that the people were “filled with expectation” (Lk 3:15) as they wondered whether John might be the Messiah. Sorry, but no. The Christ is Jesus of Nazareth, who, in his first public act, does not appear in power but humility, as he jumps into the water with the crowds, all sinners except him, in solidarity with them—as one of them, one of us.

Were the people there that day happy with Jesus? Probably not. He did not meet their expectations, but more importantly, he did not lose himself or the will of his Father in heaven.

So often we listen to the voices of others to assess our significance that these voices become the criteria for our self-esteem. However, our Lord’s humble immersion reveals that there is only one voice that counts: “You are my beloved son; with you, I am well pleased” (Lk 3:22).

This voice, if we listen, speaks happily to us, too, beloved.