Embrace the least privileged!
Readings: Wis 2, 17-20; Ps 54, 3-4.5-6.8; Jas 3, 16-4,3; Mk 9, 30-37
The word of God for us on the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time B invites us to become like children in order to be Jesus’ disciples. Our greatness as Christians consists in serving others especially the poorest and most abandoned. We learn servant leadership from Jesus Himself who came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for all (Mt 20, 28; Mk 10,45).
The least is the most important
Jesus draws out a child as an example to the disciples who argued with each other about their importance. What he suggests sounds like madness for those who do not believe God’s ways. He spoke two important words to His disciples: Become like Children! Welcome the children! What an irrelevant person a child was taken to be! A child is one who lacks experience, command of language, knowledge, power, independence, legal rights. A child, in the Hebrew society, was an economic liability, a helpless person always in need of defense. The child depends on the tenderness of others in order to grow. Children can very easily be victimized. Do adults have something in common with children? Yes. An unexpected illness, a natural disaster, the loss of one’s source of income, the natural aging process – all these can reduce us to the plight of a child. In such circumstances we are made aware of our weakness and vulnerability. We, thus, need trust to survive, trust in others and above all the One who sent Jesus.
There are some in our midst who, in a special way, do welcome the children: parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, caregivers. We are invited to ask ourselves: Who in our midst, besides children, easily become victims due to their lack of experience, command of language, voice, power, independence, legal rights? There are very many: the elderly, the sick, the lonely, the voiceless, the poor, victims of discrimination. We shouldn’t look at these as brakes in the frenzy of our busyness. Jesus is inviting us to embrace them, for if we do that, we are embracing Him. This is calling us to Christian service. Let us remember that whatever we do to these least ones, we do it for the Lord who encounters us disguised in the person of the needy (Mt 25)! Our craving for more importance often becomes an obstacle to this.
Lured by „more“
St. James (2nd reading) reminds us that at the heart of all sin, there is a desire which has the potential to cause conflict. Sin has its roots in our human desire for more. One could rightly object to this because desire moves people to develop themselves. Capitalism thrives on the lure of the “more-prospect“. Ask yourself: Dont you desire a new car? A bigger appartment? A newer smartphone? Etc. In each of us there an original wound of sin that arouses covetousness. The advertisement branche knows how to present things following the slogan: „We see, therefore we want.“ Many times we end up buying things we don’t even need. This points us to one of the seven deadly sins, namely greed. There are many passions in us that crave for satisfaction. If not checked, they cause wars and intrigues among us. We ought to be careful that our prayer is not motivated by our wild passions. There is an apparent interior conflict caused by desires. Only the wise can subdue these desires by seeking God’s way with another kind of „more“, namely purity, peace, gentleness, openness to reason, mercy, sincerity, righteousness.
Wisdom calms down the desire for more
We have to note that our dissatisfaction and our desire for what others own disturb our inner peace. Our jealousy and exaggerated selfish ambitions lead us to condemn others, sometimes even to shameful deaths: some are really killed, others suffer blackmail and calumny. This is, as we have heard from the book of Wisdom (1st reading), because those who follow God’s way are inconvinient to us. This is exactly what happened to Jesus, the Just One. He teaches us the way of humility and readiness to suffer for the truth. True greatness lies in service. Whoever desires to climb the christian ladder should be ready to become a servant of all. With regard to servant leadership, we all ought to make a fresh start (like children at the beginning of their life journeys) in order to learn from Jesus who is meek and humble. Let us use our power as leaders in our areas of influence (family, school, at work, among friends) to wrap our arms around those who are susceptile to abuse and exploitation!