25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel – Mark 9:30-37

I’m the Greatest; No, I Am!

Sea of Galilee

A little boy was overheard talking to himself as he strutted through the backyard, wearing his baseball cap and toting a ball and bat. “I’m the greatest hitter in the world,” he announced. Then, he tossed the ball into the air, swung at it, and missed.

“Strike One!” he yelled. Undaunted, he picked up the ball and said again, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” He tossed the ball into the air. When it came down he swung again and missed. “Strike Two!” he cried out.

The boy then paused a moment to examine his bat and ball carefully. He spit on his hands and rubbed them together. He straightened his cap and said once more, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” Again he tossed the ball up in the air and swung at it. He missed. “Strike Three!”

“Wow!” he exclaimed. “I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!”

We all want to the best at something; we all want to be recognized, appreciated for our accomplishments.  We all need that pat on the back.  But today the disciples have gone too far.  They are actually arguing with each other, fighting over who is the greatest.  Just picture that conversation!

I’ve cured more people than you!  Jesus likes me better!  I can retell His parables better than anyone!  Can you imagine Jesus shaking His head, wondering what is going on.

We have all been in that kind of situation.  Sometimes it’s a rivalry in the family. Mom likes me best!  Sometimes it’s a school rivalry.   And there is nothing more intense than a basketball game between St. Pat’s and Notre Dame High School!  Go Shamrocks!  Sometimes it affects an entire city.  Those of us living in Chicago know the fierceness of the rivalry between Cubs and Sox fans.  Even in our society, competitiveness and cutthroat competition are to be valued.  The meek and the gentle do NOT inherit the earth.  Whether we are talking about deodorant or hamburger joints or beer, it’s all about being the best; coming in second is considered a loss!  Whatever the context, there is this underlying attitude that someone is better than someone else.  It eats away at us and fosters feelings of selfishness and jealousy.

Jesus could have raised His voice; I guess He could have sent them to their room for acting like children (if they had a room).  But no, He speaks gently but directly to them. If you want to be the best, you must be the least.  You must accept this child in My name and, if you do, then you have accepted Me.  Treat everyone like you would a child and stop arguing.  There is no place in the Kingdom for rivalry or competition.

We are all human.  We all compare ourselves to others and hope we are better at something.  We all want to feel unique and special.  And we all stumble and fall in our pride and selfishness.  Just like the disciples!

Great Spirit, let me walk in balance today.  Remove from me all resentment, jealousy and selfishness.  Let me love You so I can love my neighbors.


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