“You can find Calcutta anywhere in the world. You only need two eyes to see. Everywhere in the world there are people that are not loved, people that are not wanted nor desired, people that no one will help, people that are pushed away or forgotten. And this is the greatest poverty. “ - Mother Teresa
Gospel Text: Mark 10:28-31
Peter began to say to Jesus,
"We have given up everything and followed you."
Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.
But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first."
The last line of today’s gospel passage is something that people always like to say to someone when they are being selfish. "The first will be last and the last will be first"(Mark 10:31). Or at least my parents told it to me, and I now find myself saying it to others. Usually it is meant as a causal reprimand, or even a joke. Yet, it speaks a very powerful truth that is against anything we learn in our world today.
This statement is one of those that sums up the whole message of the Gospel. It is a one-liner that can be used to simply spread who Jesus was and who he is calling us to be. At the Last Supper, Jesus takes a towel, wraps it around his waist and does the unthinkable. He is a Rabbi, a teacher, a master, a king and the Lord, and he bends over and does the work of a meaningless servant: he washes the disciples’ feet. In this simple gesture, Jesus is demonstrating the whole meaning of the Christian life. We are to humble ourselves, just like God humbled himself to become human, and become the lowest of the low. We are called to serve, sometimes even in the trenches of poverty and despair. That is what it means to be a Christian: to love one another so much, we serve.
Jesus doesn’t allow us to sink, though. In fact, it is through love and service for all of God’s creation, that we shall be first. If we only think about ourselves and are always first, we will be the last ones. If we put ourselves last, we shall be the first to be welcomed into the Kingdom of God.
This line is one that leads us to the greatest commandment of all:
"Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." –John 12-15