York and Swansea are among the towns that now have streetcars. They’re up-market buses, it’s true, but they don’t quite reach the state-of-the-art heights of some of the prototypes. These were painted lilac to ‘appeal to female travellers’(sic) and had futuristic snub noses and low-slung floors. They were lit by spotlights, with shaded areas for those who want to snooze, and had more single seats as well as lounge-style curved seating in the rear. They even had devices fitted which turned traffic lights to green when they approached and a text messaging service to alert passengers when the service was due to arrive at their stop. Its operators were to be banned from describing it as a ‘bus’; yet, for all its ostentatious dressing up, that is indubitably what it remained.
Jesus had little time for pomposity. He saw through religious or wealthy people who paraded their outward excellence but hid their real selves. He preferred the company of those who did not hide the reality of their lives – the tax gatherer, the prostitute, the religious outcast. He never surrounded himself with anything or anyone pretentious. He came to people with nothing more than who he was and died stripped of everything else.
Any temptation we feel to put on airs probably comes from the need to boost our own confidence. We may feel we are not very exciting when we’re just being natural. We may fear that people won’t like us as we are so we create a persona we think they will warm to. Spending time reflecting on our lives this Lent will renew our confidence that we have more to offer than we think. The most courageous thing, and the most effective, is to be ourselves. There’s enough for us to be proud of there without us needing to pretend to be someone different.
Read: Jesus said: Truly I tell you this poor widow has put in more than all of them…she has put in all she has. (Luke 21.3-4)
Rejoice: in the aspects of my personality I like.
Reflect: In what contexts am I most likely to hide my real self? Why is that?
Remember: that people who came into contact with Jesus and spent time with him seemed to become more confident in themselves.
Resolve: to share God’s delight in who I am.