Pettiness: Must Not Be Our Way

December 1, 2021

Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur had finally succeeded in getting their homemade airplane airborne on December 17, 1903. Ecstatic over their success, they sent a telegram from Kitty Hawk, NC to their sister in Dayton, Ohio saying, "First sustained flight today. Fifty-nine seconds. Hope to be home for Christmas." Well, it seems sister was so thrilled by their success that she immediately took the telegram to the editor of the local Dayton, OH newspaper. The following morning edition found the Wright brothers' name splashed across the front page. The headline that day read, "Popular Local Bicycle Merchants Home for the Holidays." Quite obviously, the newspaper editor had missed the important point of the historic telegram.

Have you wondered why God became Man to save the world? God is almighty and all-powerful yet became humble and seemed weak. God took on the flesh and became incarnated. During Advent, we focus on God becoming Man, the mystery of the Incarnation. God took initiative in the history of human salvation by sending His Only Begotten Son to be our Redeemer. Let us make this the key of all our preparations for Christmas. In other words, it is to welcome Christ in our midst as Prophet Zephaniah says the King is in your midst, and as John the Baptist says, He is mightier than I am. The king and mightier is in our midst, namely, in our lives, in our families, and in our Church community. Let us keep Christ in the center of all our preparations for Christmas.

The pettiness of Christmas might distract us from real and genuine empathy. What does distract us from the praxis of Christ? Is it pettiness? If it is true, each one of us must guard against this to keep ourselves fixated. Petty things must not affect the true emphasis or else we will find ourselves vexing-over small matters of concern at the price of greater matters of concern. It is spontaneous to act in situations of concern, but it is equally imperative to discern before we act so that we may not miss vital focus on the situation. There are myriad situations in which we might like to act on matters, both at Church and at home. Pettiness is like a “chip on the shoulders” or an infection if not treated might be detrimental.

Pettiness can lead one to paranoia and frustration because of being petty, one is proving to be superior to the other, or one is trying to be a perfectionist considering others as imperfectionists. When we act without discernment, we tend to prove that we know better than others. This is a natural tendency that we have put up in our day-to-day life. A woman cited to me that she stopped driving because her husband always annoys her with instructions whilst driving. Obviously, the husband feels obligated to instruct her because he knows driving better than the wife. We know the persons in our lives who are “know all” persons. These people think that they have responsibility for the world, hence, they want to point out what is wrong with others. Pettiness can be the guiding force for the “know all” person. A perfectionist would love to point out to others, how imperfect another person is? Again, the person would like to point out errors of other persons because a perfectionist thinks that he is obligated to make the world perfect. Hence, even petty things might affect the perfectionist. A man elucidated his ordeal with his perfectionist wife. When the husband washes clothe and press it, the wife must find fault, either soap is still not washed properly or there is more than one line whilst pressing clothes. Hence, they have to struggle with each other, one being a perfectionist and another being, I am OK with what I do. There will be petty things bothering the relationship and friendships. If not attended and discerned, the relationship can be curdled.

Joseph and Mary were not distracted with microscopic details at the manger whilst at the birth and nursing of Jesus. They embraced what is available with an attitude of sacrifice and surrender to the existing situation. If they had to fret over the things that were not in their favor, childbirth and nursing would have been harder. They had to look beyond the pettiness to embrace the larger reality of God’s plan for Jesus. In life, we must look over something and not fret about every little thing so that we look at the larger reality of life. Let us introspect, whether we fret over trivial matters and hence distract others and ourselves or we, like Mary and Joseph, look at the larger reality. It is true, those small things make a bigger reality, however, the small things must not allow us to distract from the bigger reality. This Advent must help us to supersede petty things and must help us to keep our horizon open to welcome and invite the Lord into our midst. At the same time, Advent must help us to keep our minds and hearts fixed on important things in life and if possible ignore petty things, in order that we live a happy and good life with each other.




By Jerri Melwin Dias
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