Jesus and His disciples came to Capernaum, where He asked them,
“What were you discussing on the road?” Their silence was deafening
-they had been arguing with one another over who among them was
greatest. Jesus sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So, you want
first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.” Jesus put
a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in His
arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do
embraces me, and far more than me – God who sent me.” [Mark 9: 33-37]
Jesus and His disciples had a conversation about the pros and cons of what constitutes true greatness. When Jesus asked the disciples what they had been arguing about, they had nothing to say for themselves. Their silence was obviously one of shame. They had no defense so long as they had thought Jesus was not listening. The argument seemed to be fair enough, until it had to be stated in the presence of Jesus’ greatness – the greatness of supreme love [agape love], the greatness of humility, service and divine grace. Our notion of greatness in the light of God’s greatness is puny, shallow and entirely insufficient.
Jesus’ greatness, the greatness of being last, not first, and to serve rather than being served is a curious idea and an even more curious way of life. Jesus tells us, as he told his twelve disciples, that if we seek after greatness in His kingdom, it must be found, not by being first but by being last. Not by being masters but by being servants of all. This method of Jesus did not mean that Jesus abolished personal, individual ambition, rather, He shows us human beings how to prioritize, recreate and sublimate ambition! How to make ambition work for everyone, not just for a select few. For the ambition to rule over others, Jesus shows us how to substitute the ambition to serve others. For the ambition to have things done for oneself, Jesus substituted the ambition to do things for others. This is true greatness!
Invest in being human, as did Jesus of Nazareth – the human life of God. Join me in affirming that we are spiritual beings striving to be more authentically and fully human beings. We are endeavoring to translate dreams [the spiritual and intangible] into deeds [the concrete and tangible].