Sunday, September 20, 2009

Who is the Greatest?

Mothers and school-teachers have a knack for getting kids to do the opposite of what they are inclined. When a certain nun grew tired of her students climbing over one another to be first in the candy or pretzel line, she invented a clever way to put an end to the me-first mentality. Whatever child was last in line, would be permitted to purchase their pretzel first. That was end of everyone fighting to be at the head of the line.

In today's Gospel, Jesus asks the apostles what they were discussing and they tell him they were arguing over which one of them was the greatest. Placing a child in their midst, Our Lord makes it clear that what qualifies as first in the secular world means nothing in Heaven, and the way to earning a place among the Elect is by assuming humility and realizing that we are nothing without God.

It won't matter whether we drove a Lexus or a lemon. Nor will it matter how many celebrity names we can drop, how expensive the bottle of wine we drank or exclusive the hotel we vacationed in. The only thing that will matter is how faithful we lived the Gospel and how centered we were on fulfilling God's will. The more we go about our lives with humility, fully aware of our nothingness, the easier it will be to resemble Christ and earn a share in his Divinity.

Soon, it will be Thanksgiving, which means the sense of greed and entitlement will come to its yearly climax. This is perhaps demonstrated best in the Black Friday sales that begin in the wee hours of the morning and encourage a herd mentality of people seeking to be first to get bargains to be given as Christmas gifts. If you see anything that resembles Christ in stampeding someone to death in the haste to be first, let me know. And be assured that there will be no similar line waiting to get into Mass on Christmas morning. Not a very good way to observe the birth of the Savior. IF we imitate the behavior of Our Lord, who donned an apron and washed his disciples' feet, we can be assured that we are on the right path. And if we put Him first in our lives with the realization that the only greatness we have is that which He gives us, we can't help but win a place with the Elect.

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