by: Br. DJ Garcia, [cjm]
Who is the greatest? This is the question the disciples cared and argue about along their journey. Even after when Jesus had just predicted his own suffering and death, to which the disciples did not comprehend but were afraid to ask.
It is a natural human desire to aspire to be great, to actualize one’s potentials and reach the height of greatness. But more often than not, we associate greatness with power, possessions and accomplishments. The capacity to influence and to enforce one’s will and design on others is also a measure of one’s greatness. Moreover, we associate greatness with intellectual greatness, as we honor people with great minds: the revolutionary persons whose thoughts and actions have made significant changes and contributions in the world. That is how the world perceives greatness: success in the areas of power, possessions and accomplishments such that the rich, the powerful, the influential are revered.
On the contrary the Lord Jesus sees greatness differently: in terms of humility, service and love. “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Certainly, this is not how the world sees greatness, but this is power in God’s kingdom. How difficult this is for us, for it is natural to be ahead of the rest, to be the best in the class, to stamp one’s desire on others, to be served. And with our position, our power, our accomplishments, deep within us, we carry a certain sense of entitlement: I am important (or even, I am great). I need to be served by others.
Jesus reinforces and illustrates his point by taking a child and carrying him in his arms, to which he challenges us to do likewise, to receive a child in his name. This is not as simple as it is. In the Jewish ancient world, children have little value, for they are considered weak and powerless. As such, children are very vulnerable. What the Lord tells us then, is to receive and to serve the vulnerable. These are the children, the aged, the sick, the poor, the underprivileged, the needy. They are the ones in the peripheries, the marginalized. They could be whom the society considers unimportant or less important because they are not efficient or no longer can contribute significantly to society. Jesus in stooping down to carry a child in his arms, can be interpreted as uplifting the dignity of the vulnerable by serving them and responding to their needs.
Jesus came to serve and not to be served. His whole life was a service for others. Let us have, then, this “servant” mentality. Let us have the mind of Jesus.
A “servant” mind and heart would always look for opportunities to serve. To be great, serve!
Let us then, serve one another, especially, let us serve the weak, the needy and the vulnerable.
To be humble is to do service, and to do service is to love.
The following reflections are courtesy of Eudist Fathers in the Philippines with some Eudist seminarians assigned to give their sharing and reflections on Sunday readings.