YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE TRUE PATH OF GREATNESS
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
It is human and natural to desire to be great. In fact, this singular desire informs most of our choices and dreams. On the other hand it is Christian, divine and most profound to prune in what consists our understanding of greatness. May God continue to illumine us and keep us firm always on the true path of greatness; Amen.
This natural desire to be great was profoundly manifested in the disciples in the Gospel Reading of today (Mark 9:30-37), regrettably at the very time Jesus was instructing them about the central focus of His mission “the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put Him to death; and three days after He has been put to death He will rise again”; and most regrettably with a concept of greatness that totally contrasts from the values that Jesus Christ stands for; an understanding that will be exemplified in the request of James and John “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (Mk 10:37). Jesus knows how to drive His message home and how to keep His message indelible in our minds. And some may have thought, He didn’t rebuke them nor did He abuse them. Yes off course; because He knew there was this tension within them that urges them at times to think and understand in the terms, categories and values of the world. There is always this tension, not just in the apostles, but in all of us, that drags us between the poles of what the world understands as greatness and what our faith as Christians informs us to seek as greatness. Jesus rather called His disciples and calmly gave them a life changing instruction “if anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.” In the words of Christ the Emmanuel, greatness lies in a term which unfortunately some of us may not want to hear. Greatness lies in service! To be great is to be a servant! To be a servant is to place every person before us and to live in childlike simplicity; the simplicity that makes children resplendent with joy and happiness and trust. These virtues distinguish us from the world.
Whereas the world thinks of greatness from the point of view of power and wealth and occupying the best of places and the first of positions, the Christian on the other hand understands greatness from the point of view of virtues. In this difference of perspective stands the conflict of values which to a great extent, in a confused world, is the source of torment for the upright, mainly by those who see virtuous living as a reproach for their own style of life. The conflict that was captured through the wise words of the First Reading (Wisdom 2:12, 17-20), “let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us and opposes our way of life.” This persecution of the just by the unjust has been the cause of the fall of many from grace! The virtuous man or woman must be firm and determined and focused and convinced that a life devoid of virtues is folly and worthless. The greatest of men and women are men and women of virtues; and this is what the Lord requests of us today. A life of virtues makes us childlike. A life of virtues invites us to serve! A life of virtues leads us to greatness! And truly, no greater greatness could one desire than the greatness of winning the crown of eternal glory which God has prepared for those who love Him and keep His words (James 1:12). The desire of this Crown of Glory and the daily effort to possess this Crown by our humble service is the singular cure for the jealousy and ambition and selfishness that destroys our families, communities and the world at large. Saint James makes it clearer in the Second Reading (James 3:16-4:3), “Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force”. The greatest of problems and conflicts and tragedies we have in the world are caused by those who do not want to serve and those whose sole aim is to be superior to all. There is calm and peace in any community where everyone desires to serve with the mind of Christ and where everyone understands that we become great by humbling ourselves to the last of positions!
Lord, help us by your grace to listen to you always and to understand what You say to us and to put them daily into practice and to desire that greatness that we acquire by being the servant of all and desiring not the first but the last of positions; Amen. Happy Sunday;
Fr Unachukwu Cyril CCE
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