“Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves.” How often do each of us individually, or as a community, parish, or country, make vanity or pride the driving theme of our lives?

Pope Francis recently commented that “The Tower of Babel is exactly the attitude of those who build walls, because to build walls is to say, ‘we are powerful, and you are outside.’  Walls always exclude, they prefer power, in this case the power of money.” A wall epitomizes a “monument of exclusion.”  “Walls make you closed,” and close your heart.

Vanity and pride can themselves become walls, separating us from God. How do we open our hearts and get beyond that wall of “making a name for ourselves”? Through service­­–to the poor, marginalized, outcast, refugee, all we have walled out from our lives.

―George P. Sullivan, Jr. is a Jesuit-educated lay leader who helped found the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, Chicago Chapter. He and his wife, Dorothy Turek, live in Wilmette IL, and have four children and four grandchildren.