It is instinctive to want to be great. Natural, to want to lord it over others. But as humans, we are the highest life form. We have body and soul, and the faculty to rise above instinct. We have the fullest capacity to choose. But with greatness comes authority. Using authority, we have much more to choose from simply because we are first to decide. Greatness is a temptation.
“No, anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”. (Today’s Gospel)
Greatness must be out of the spiritual equation of desires. Because greatness recognizes the element of ‘self’ in however small degree our faculty enable us to control that recognition. In the pureness of spirituality ‘self’ has no place. If ‘my’ intention to be “slave of all” because ‘I’ want to be great, then that itself is already wrong.
Servanthood is about dying to self. It is a journey into self-giving. It is faith growing into action. It is living “Christ must increase, I must decrease”. It is about choosing to drink the cup that Christ drank from. It is about making progress towards becoming Christ-like to give our life as a ransom for others. It is wisdom to embrace that true love places self-love last.
We are of course, mere mortals. Our faculty, body and spirit, is much below that of the Son of Man. His divinity, absolutely. His humanity, can be an aspiration. But let’s not go there but remain mere mortals.
James and John did not seek greatness to benefit themselves in this material world. They had already given up everything. They were asking a spiritual reward but from the mind of a mere mortal. And they were rebuked. In that rebuke, every mortal was offered the wisdom of servanthood. It is an attitude-changer for us, putting into perspective how to drink from his cup and to live our life as a ransom for others.
The more authority we have, the better servants we can become.
Every day we can drink from his cup to draw strength to become a blessing for the people we will encounter in our day. Every day we wake up to take our position in society in our responsibilities in family, job and relationships. Every day we use our God given talents to do an honest day’s work. Every day we think about our ‘self’. Today we are invited into the wisdom of servanthood, called to change our attitude.
We are created for one another. Each have a different talent, each bestowed a different position. Each talent and position complementing and not competing. We are individual pieces of a jigsaw. Our ‘self’ is important but no more important that the complete jigsaw that make up the world. We exist, and survive, as a collective. We are parts of the One Body.
The prize of life is in the effort we give to share our ‘self’. God judges effort, not result. He alone will know all the mitigating factors that challenges our servanthood. For us mere mortals we are called to rise above our instinct and just try.
Choose servanthood and become a blessing to others. Make today amazing for them.
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time