Meditation: Are you surprised to see the disciples of
Jesus arguing about who is the greatest among them? Don't we do
the same thing? The appetite for glory and greatness seems to be
inbred in us. Who doesn't cherish the ambition to be "somebody"
whom others admire rather than a "nobody"? Even the psalms
speak about the glory God has destined for us. "You have made
them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and
honor" (Psalm 8:5). Jesus made a dramatic gesture by placing
a child next to himself to show his disciples who really is the
greatest in the kingdom of God.
What can a little child possibly teach us about greatness? Children in the ancient world had no rights, position, or privileges of their own. They were socially at the "bottom of the rung" and at the service of their parents, much like the household staff and domestic servants. What is the significance of Jesus' gesture? Jesus elevated a little child in the presence of his disciples by placing the child in a privileged position of honor at his right side. It is customary, even today, to seat the guest of honor at the right side of the host. Who is the greatest in God's kingdom? The one who is humble and lowly of heart - who instead of asserting their rights willingly empty themselves of pride and self-seeking glory by taking the lowly position of a servant or child.
Jesus, himself, is our model. He came not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Paul the Apostles states that Jesus "emptied himself and took the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:7). Jesus lowered himself (he whose place is at the right hand of God the Father) and took on our lowly nature that he might raise us up and clothe us in his divine nature. "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). 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, envy, self-seeking glory, vanity, and possessiveness. God wants empty vessels so he can fill them with his own glory, power, and love (2 Corinthians 4:7). Are you ready to humble yourself and to serve as Jesus did?
"Lord Jesus, your grace knows no bounds. You give freely to the humble of heart and you grant us freedom to love and serve others selflessly. May my love for you express itself in an eagerness to do good for others."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/