Sir 2:1-11; Mk 9:30-37
The Second Prediction of the Passion
From an unknown source, a story was told that a mother was preparing pancakes for her two sons, Kevin and Ryan, ages 5 and 3 respectively. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. “If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake; I can wait.” Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, “Ryan, you be Jesus!”
For more than two years that the apostles follow Jesus and yet today’s gospel presents to us how self-centered they still were. They compete with one another to see who is the most important and the greatest among them. They want to be ‘number one.’ This is their fundamental problem, just as it is also ours because rivalry, competition and jealousy exist among us today.
And so Jesus says that the greatest in the kingdom of God is not the President of the Philippines or those prominent and rich people or the pope, the bishop and the priest. But the greatest in the kingdom of heaven are those who are humble and act as the servants of all. When we are humble and servants of others, it does not mean that we abase ourselves or we allow others to humiliate and step on us. If we are doing so, then, it is a false humility. And Jesus made a dramatic gesture by embracing a child to show his disciples who really is the greatest in the kingdom of God. What can a little child possibly teach us about greatness? It is because a child in the ancient time is someone without legal status and therefore helpless; no rights, position, or privileges of his own; at the service of his parents much like the household staff and domestic servants.
The significance of Jesus’ gesture is for me to make a child a symbol of purity, humility, trust, obedience, helplessness, dependence, forgiveness, innocence and these are the qualities of God’s Kingdom. I’m sure this one of the very reasons why Christ makes them models of greatness.
Being servant means becoming a child at heart. Being a servant means serving all those whom we meet or live with. As Christians, we are expected to serve and not to be served. For serving is one of the best ways of witnessing our love for each other and for God. By so doing Jesus, Himself, is our model. It is because He came not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). St. Paul states that Jesus emptied Himself and took the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7). If we want to be filled with God’s life and power, then we need to empty ourselves of everything which stands in the way: pride, self-seeking glory, vanity, etc. God wants empty vessels so He can fill them with His own glory, power and love (2Cor. 4:7).
Are we ready to humble ourselves and to serve as Jesus does?