Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be and becoming that person. - Saint Therese of Lisieux
(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. For 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.”
The question for us today is not whether we have ambitions - we all have ambitions - but what our ambitions are. Are they for self-aggrandizement, for our getting ahead at the expense of others, or are they for the Lord?
It's enlightening to look at the ambitions of many of the saints. St. Ignatius of Loyola had an ambition to do everything for God's glory. St. Francis Xavier had the ambition to bring whole nations to the Lord. St. Teresa of Avila had the ambition to reform the Carmelites so that it might sing forever of God's glory. Blessed Mother Teresa had the ambition to satiate Jesus' infinite thirst for souls.
Those who are striving to serve the Lord are striving for the Lord's glory, not their own. They trust the Lord to figure out where they're most needed, whether it's in a very prominent position in the eyes of the world or an insignificant one. Their ambition is to do the Lord's will, knowing that, if the Lord wants, he can take that humble service and multiply it to serve the world.
Today, Jesus reminds us that he is to be handed over to men who will kill him, but then he will rise. He told us that we, too, if we are truly his followers, will deny ourselves, pick up our Cross each day, and follow him with love on the path to Calvary. And today he wants to strengthen us to have a similar holy ambition.
As we go from prayer to the other things on our agenda today, let's ask God's help to reflect on today’s gospel from Mass. Let's ask for the holy ambition to follow Jesus up close along this path and to aspire to help to bring everyone else we know and we'll serve today in our work to join us on that road to heaven through simple gestures of love put into action.