Gospel Reflection, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 2:12, 17-21; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37
Today’s Gospel is a Reality Check
The Oscars. The Super Bowl. TV talent shows. Your son's Little League championship. We live in a culture set on competition. The desire to "be the best" goes beyond hobbies and into politics, the corporate world, and parenting comparisons at the park. This desire is as old as the human race, and it surely arose in Jesus' day. While Biblical society was significantly less open and upwardly mobile than our own, power was attractive. From what we know, many of Jesus' disciples had come from lowly backgrounds. Now they followed an increasingly popular rabbi who seemed primed to do something big.
Jesus does his best to dissuade their high hopes by prophesying his own defeat. "The Son of Man is to be handed over and they will kill him." Internalizing the message proves challenging for the disciples, and their attention remains fixed on earthly glory. "They discuss] among themselves on the way who was the greatest." True to style, Jesus flips their pretensions on their heads. "'If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.'"
We have heard these Biblical principles before. Do we believe them? In our professional lives, do we do whatever we can to get ahead, or are we concerned with the entire team succeeding? In the lives of our children, are we more concerned with victory or with building character? Jesus doesn't condemn success, but he reframes it. "'Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me.'" Today's Gospel is a reality check. In God's eyes, our success will not be measured by worldly output alone but by how much love and service we offer to others in the process.
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