Tuesday, February 25, 2014

“If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

Spiritual superiority only sees the individual. But alas, ordinarily we human beings are sensual and, therefore, as soon as it is a gathering, the impression changes -- we see something abstract, the crowd, and we become different. But in the eyes of God, the infinite spirit, all the millions that have lived and now live do not make a crowd, He only sees each individual. - Soren Kierkegaard (Danish Christian philosopher and theologian)

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.”

When people are arguing, fighting, coveting, and unsatisfied with their position, they are focused on worldly things, which are unsatisfactory, instead of focusing on spiritual things. If they would ask God for what they truly need, they would be satisfied, but instead they go against God by coveting things of the world.

If the Lord does not build a house, then in vain do the builders labor (Ps 127:1).

If they would, as the psalm suggests today at Mass (PS 55:7-8, 9-10A, 10B-11A, 23), throw their cares on the Lord, he would support them, but they choose instead to put their energies and focus elsewhere, and they get no support, and no satisfaction. Sound familiar?

The disciples in the gospel passage above are no better. They fight amongst themselves over who is the greatest. They are fighting with each other and coveting position and thinking of more worldly issues, even as Jesus is telling them the most important aspect of the Christian faith. He is telling them that he will die and rise from the dead, but they did not understand what he was saying and what he meant, so they squabbled amongst themselves over who was most important in their group.

Don’t people today still ignore the bigger issues of the faith and instead squabble over insignificant details and over who is most important?

When Jesus finds out that his own people have been ignoring his teaching and instead fighting with each other over importance, he gives a lesson on what is important. He says that the greatest is not the richest or most powerful, the greatest is the most helpful: the opposite of the one at the top. He brings in a child – the least powerful, most vulnerable – someone who can give no benefit but requires the most help. And he says whoever helps a child, the least important of people, will be receiving Jesus and God himself.

Instead of hating each other, we should be loving God, and the best way to love God is to love his people. What better way to show God our appreciation than to appreciate and respect, even love, his creation (i.e. each other). Loving each other, treating each other decently – even the poor, especially the poor – is the most effective way to acquire satisfaction in our lives. Those who love the lowest, least important people, those who give with no expectation of benefit, will receive the greatest benefit.

The things of the world are not the most satisfying, but the love of God can satisfy all.

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