Daily Reflection – 2/25/2020
They left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” (Mark 9: 30-37)
I smile ruefully every time I read this Gospel. The smile comes because here we sit 2020 years later after Our Savior came and we still don’t get the same message that the disciples struggled with at this point in the ministry of Jesus Christ.
But the message is so clear. So perhaps it is our attitudes and earthy habits that won’t change. Let’s look at it from this perspective.
God humbled himself in order to be among all those and with all those whose lives aren’t perfect; to be among and with the poor, the weak, the disenfranchised. God came down into this world in order to be among and with us. Because even we are not always as strong, as we want to be, and because we all need someone who is by our side, and who cares about our plight. We need someone who forgives us when we can’t even forgive ourselves.
God turned the world upside down by God’s foolish behavior: changing the world through humility, extreme servitude, and a concern for the marginalized that defied and still defies most of the values of our culture. God empowered the power-less to proclaim and further the kingdom of God.
God’s greatness is in stooping down. Christian greatness is in going to where the ones are who are not accepted by society, who are on the margins, who are the forgotten ones. Greatness is in serving our neighbor, because in serving our neighbor, we serve God. We meet God where God chooses to be: at the bottom. Or as St. James said: Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.
Jesus made a dramatic gesture by embracing a child to show his disciples who really is the greatest in the kingdom of God. Who is the greatest in God’s kingdom? The one who is humble and lowly of heart — who instead of asserting their rights willingly empty themselves of pride and self-seeking glory by taking the lowly position of a servant or child.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, by your cross you have redeemed the world and revealed your glory and triumph over sin and death. May I never fail to see your glory and victory in the cross. Help me to conform my life to your will and to follow in your way of holiness.”
Greatness in Christ’s Kingdom is equated with humility, an attitude that puts the good of others ahead of one’s own preferences. By defining Christian greatness in this way, the innate human desire to excel and achieve is not stifled, but channeled. He doesn’t tell his apostles, “You shouldn’t strive to be great, to achieve great things,” but he does point out where true, lasting, fulfilling greatness lies – in loving one’s neighbor as Christ has loved them. Jesus is the Servant-Lord; his greatest disciples follow in those demanding footsteps.