Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13
By: Charlie Wester
Today’s reading from Zephaniah reminds us that no matter how highly we think of ourselves, there is something greater in the universe than humanity. I fear that we, like the inhabitants of the city in Zephaniah’s reading, seem to have lost our way and displaced God with our own version of divinity. We worship athletes, singers, actors, politicians, and business people like gods. We spend so much of our time consumed with ourselves – our appearance, our personal “brand,” our careers, etc. – it’s an easy, endless slide toward the narcissism and rebellion the Lord condemns in Zephaniah today. How can we break free from the tempting pitfall of self-obsession?
I am reminded of the Latin dictum “Ad majorem dei gloriam,” for the Greater Glory of God, adopted by the Jesuits as their guiding principle. We find the letters AMDG inscribed on the cornerstones of Jesuit churches and university buildings as a reminder that the work the Society of Jesus does is not for the glorification of themselves or some human institution, but to acknowledge that God is at the center of all they do. This motto might serve as an easy way to re-conceptualize what we are doing here on Earth and what should be at the center of our lives. Let’s see what happens when we kick out the “self” and replace it with God.
I am inspired by Zephaniah to put the spirit of AMDG at the center of my life this Advent season. When I succeed in earthly endeavors, I will remember that I am the product of a loving God and trying to do my best is simply fulfilling my part of the relationship. In my shortcomings I will turn to God and wait patiently for the coming of the baby Jesus at Christmas so that I may find strength in Christ.