A parishioner recently showed me pictures from a trip to Southeast Asia, one of which included a proboscis monkey. I had never before seen or heard of this animal endemic to Indonesia. I almost thought the picture was joke, like this was man dressed as a mascot, so funny and unique looking the animal was with its height, potbelly and long nose. I wondered if instead of bananas the species eats bratwursts and drinks Coors Lights.
The proboscis monkey had me thinking of vanity. Vanity is an inordinate desire for the esteem of others. The vain person boasts (speaking highly of oneself to increase esteem), is ostentatious (drawing attention to oneself by pompous display), or is hypocritical (manifesting an outward appearance of virtue to cover inner vices). They put too much stock in externals. Like the Pharisee, as Jesus says, they "cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence" (Matthew 23:26). Vain people do this because they do not believe the 'inside of the cup' is good enough.
The antidote to vanity, like most things, is trust in God. The vain person thinks they need more than their soul; that they need material possessions, good looks, and honor to make up for what is lacking. The Christian, however, trusts that God has made them good, for God makes everything as he wants it and, as the saying goes, "God don't make junk."
We who are vain could learn from the proboscis monkey that clearly does not care how others view it and accepts itself as God made it.