Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Gospel Text: Mk 9:30-37)
Jesus and his disciples 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 the Son of Man 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 the 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."
It seems that we have a lot in common with the apostles. We love Jesus, they loved Jesus. We want to follow him, they followed him. We want to please him, and so did they. And like the apostles, we too are subject to human weakness. Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus was trying to teach the apostles, but they weren’t listening. They were arguing about who was the greatest.
Like us, they had the natural human tendency to think about their needs and desires more than the needs and desires of others. In other words, their hearts needed to be shaped and purified, just as ours do!
Notice, when Jesus asked about the conversation, the apostles kept quiet.
So, let’s ask ourselves: “How many times do we engage in senseless arguments? How many times have we tried to prove our point while knowing all the time that the argument was trivial?”
The apostles eventually outgrew these self-centered attitudes. They realized that they were God’s children and that they were being entrusted with God’s work. They understood that what counted most was to show people how to love God and to love one another.
As Jesus did with the apostles, he wants to do with us. He wants to show us a higher way to live. He wants to show us how noble and pleasing it is to serve others above ourselves. He wants to teach us how to avoid getting caught up in senseless arguments and how to redirect our conversations so that they help promote virtue and love over envy and jealousy.