One of the greatest human desires is greatness. This is because all want to be recognized and to receive congratulations, honors, and consideration. Christ reverses the course of things in today’s gospel reading. He points to the reality that a human person’s worth is not a function of her social rank. Rather, He tells us that it lies on the person’s commitment to serving others without expecting anything in return.
To find one’s own joy in serving is the most difficult challenge one can face, especially in the present culture where all hunger for honors, titles, and awards. But what does serving mean? Our understanding of it is almost always connected with the notion of reward or salary. But is not the kingdom of God we long for the most important aspiration we hold in our life? We can all agree with one another on this. However, it is the way we are willing to engage in responding to the call of the Lord as an invitation to share in his fullness of life that seems to escape us: to serve in order to be great!
As can be seen in today’s readings, hunger for honor, power, and recognition is the source of the so many conflicts which divide the world and wipe away the joy that should characterize the children of God. Christ asks us to scrutinize our own inward selves to find out what commands our life’s aspirations. As Christians, jealousy, grudges, hatred and many kinds of other evils inhabit our hearts only because we hunger for what cannot give us true peace and true honor. We have already received the honor to be called children of God; what should follow is our eagerness to always make sure that our identity may transpire through our life and the ways we relate to one another. To love ourselves is to make ourselves available to God through our service to Him by the service we render to one another. Indeed, the human person’s value and respectfulness is not a function of how successful he or she is for his/her own sake, but rather how much of a difference he/she makes in somebody else’s life. This is what Christ means when He reminds us that “Whoever wishes to be first will be the servant of all.” This is also the reversal that can make us say that “this saying is so hard to bear.” But when we rely on Him, nothing can be impossible. To serve with love is the key here. And about this, Christ says somewhere else that if you give a glass of water to one of his friends because he/she is his friend, the reward will be great. True service is demonstrated through and by our commitment to making a difference in someone else’s life with love and a bright and genuine love. It does not matter how big or small the action is. What matters is that we do it out of love and for God’s sake. Christ shows us the how of this. For He did not spare His own life for our sake. And because of that, says St. Paul, God has given Him a name that is above all other names.
Let us pray that the Lord who shows the path to glory through humility and disinterested service of one another may give us a heart after His own Heart, able to find fulfillment and joy only when we embark on the journey of humble service for one another. And let us continue to pray for one another and for our parish family.