Advent’s “Sidekick”

“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.”
John the Baptist

pictures-of-jesus-greg-olson-way-of-joyWe all tend to think that we’re important people…and we are, yet how many times in our lives do we need to step back and be the second banana, the sidekick.

Johnny Carson had his banana, second, of course. Ed would introduce Johnny and then sit on the couch and laugh at each passing remark, whether funny or not … for 30 years. Jack Benny had Don Wilson. “The Price is Right” had Johnny Olson. “Jeopardy” and “Saturday Night Live” had Don Pardow. Joey Bishop had Regis Philbin and Merv Griffin had Arthur Treacher.

They were the those guy’s sidekicks. They’re the ones who didn’t create shadows; it’s the star in whose shadow they stood. After their routine build-up of the star they were out of the picture.

And so enters and exits John the Baptist. I guess if you wore camel’s hair and ate locust with wild honey long enough you couldn’t be the star.  It’s “someone else,” John keeps telling us building up the suspense until the star arrives.

Who would be our sidekick in this wonderful journey of life? You’d might guess who I think it is.  The most significant is our parents and those who become parents. They are the ones who paved the way for children to enter this world, fed/clothed/admonished/counseled and tons of others duties to help enter each of life’s stages.

Advent is about anticipation. We kinda know what’s coming but we’re not sure how or when or most importantly, who we will be. No matter how many Christmases you’ve honored through your life, you don’t know what this Christmas will bring, will mean, or will prove out to be.

A Christmas for many of you may your first full-time or your last, a child’s first big gift under the Christmas tree, a resolve to do better at work or in your relationships, a hope that things go as well next year as they did for you this year or … or is it a wish that it has to get better after this awfully long year of whatever preoccupied your attention.
“Honey, did you put the quarter under her pillow, you know she lost a tooth this morning.” “I got it covered dear, it’s done.” Sidekick.

“Honey, you know that promised raise at work? Well, I got it.” Star.
Here’s an example when both husband and wife are star and sidekick. “I know you’re right,” says the lying husband.

To humanize John the Baptist a bit, I believe that his first thought must have been that he’s the star. After all, his mother was way beyond child bearing years and yet, here he is. His cousin, Mary is pregnant but he’s six months older so surely he must be the chosen one. I wonder if Ed ever hosted “The Tonight Show.” I doubt it. It took a “desert experience” for both John and Jesus to figure out their role in life. We need to have “desert experiences” as well.

People and situations can all be sidekicks and stars in our one performance called life.  They can introduce us to all sorts of circumstances – some welcomed, sometimes forced, other times tolerated.

I given us all both roles in this life’s journey. What if we are the sidekick to someone else. The husband says to himself holding his wife’s hand in hospice, “I was supposed to die first,.” You are then wearing the dreadful camel’s hair and eating locust with that obligatory wild honey. But you wouldn’t change it for anything. You were both star and sidekick to your own children – propelling them into a world that was foreign to you but trusting that they’d succeed – even counseling a grandchild with advice you’re not sure is heard. (Believe me, grandchildren listened. I’ve heard grandchildren tear up during your funeral eulogizing what an influence you’ve had on them.)

We can be and are both the sidekick and the star of our one life’s performance. Sometimes we get to sit behind the desk with the microphone … and other times we must … sit on the couch and laugh on cue. Both roles are necessary because, “The show must go on.”


About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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