Wednesday, May 29, 2013

“You cannot exalt God and yourself at the same time.”

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.” - Mother Teresa

Gospel Text: ( MK10:32-45)
The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem,
and Jesus went ahead of them.
They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.
Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them
what was going to happen to him.
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man
will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death
and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him,
spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death,
but after three days he will rise.”
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
came to Jesus and said to him,
‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, ‘What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him,
“Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, ‘We can.”
Jesus said to them, “The chalice that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

When I read this gospel, I found myself subconsciously judging James and John. James and John want to sit on either side of Christ in heaven. I even went so far as to think: “How stupid were you James and John…don’t you get it? Christ is about humility. You can’t ask for that kind of honor!” Then, I reflected on the world they came from. Every privilege in their society was allocated based on honor. Huge respect stemmed from where they sat at the table.

Is our present world really any different?

Then, I looked at my own life and a few things came to mind regarding how our society judges respect and honor. The first thing that comes to mind is corporate titles and salary. We all think about them. What company do you work for, did you say Goldman Sachs? How much was your bonus last year? What grad school did you go too? What town do you live in? Wait - are you getting your MD, JD, MBA, or your PhD?

The more I reflected, the more I realized that I am just as guilty as James and John in wanting a share of honor. So what now? Christ’s gospel today is designed to bring us back to our senses.

Our new Pope, Pope Francis is an excellent example to follow when we read this gospel. Pope Francis was so humble that he rode the city bus to work. As a Cardinal he lived in an apartment, and insisted upon cooking his own food. He even lost the position of Pope to Cardinal Ratzinger during the last papal conclave. Honor and power stem from Pope Francis’s humility. He certainly did not grow up with the intention of becoming the Pope. Likewise, we cannot live our lives for the sheer purpose of seeking power. We have to live our lives as a gift of humility. If power and honor follow our humility, great. If not, God the father has a place at the heavenly banquet “allotted just for you,” and guess what? It won’t matter what your title was or what honors you achieved. The only thing that will matter is how deeply you humbled yourself loving those around you.

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