‘Selfies’ are cute for photos, but ‘selfless’ is best for life

Did you see this photo of Pope Francis recently posing with young people? A few of the teens near the pope are holding out camera phones at arm’s length, pointed back at their smiling faces. In contemporary speak, the youth are taking a “selfie,” a photographic style that is popular on social networks and photo sharing services

It is evident in the above photo capturing the scene (credit: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano) that the pope enjoyed the moment. But we’re pretty sure he’s not fond of the term “selfie.”

For in the first six months of Pope Francis’ pontificate, he has consistently preached and modeled selflessness. At World Youth Day in Brazil this summer, he said “the life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.” At Saturday’s peace vigil at St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope went so far as to say selfishness is the cause of war. “Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others,” he urged.

On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts everywhere are “selfies” with captions such as: “Here I am at the beach.” “Here I am with my best friend.” “Here I am out for dinner.” “Here I am with my new haircut.” And a couple of weeks ago, a group of young people could even post “Here I am with Pope Francis.” Good for them!

But while it’s fun to occasionally point the camera at ourselves, it’s far better to live a life that looks outward to others in need. “Go out. Go forward. Keep going,” Pope Francis continually tells Catholics.

There is a “Here I am” caption we would all do well to live by. It’s the response to God’s call spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Here I am . . . send me.” — Thomas J. Dermody

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