The desire for greatness – while it sounds like a selfish wish or purely worldly pursuit, it is not. It is a holy desire. Each of us, as a son or daughter of God the Father, is created in His image. So, our DNA is encoded for greatness! To be any less means we are not living up to our potential. But how we define greatness is what makes a critical difference. Let us take a closer look at what Christ considers the marks of true greatness.
Being first is a coveted position in our world. Children race to be at the front of the line, and grownups are not much different. Whether we are rushing to attain honor at work or simply to get to the front of a line at the grocery store, being first is attractive. What are other common situations in which we may strive to be first? Consider if we ever:
● Drive a little quicker to beat someone in traffic?
● Choose the largest or most attractive portion of a meal or dessert?
● Speak our opinions before listening to those of others?
● Hurry past others to get the best seat in a theater, the best pew in Church, or even to secure the best parking spot?
In Jesus’s eyes dashing to the front, is not the goal. The verse just before where today’s Gospel begins is v. 16 “Thus the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
When we wait, allow others to choose, go first, or get the best portion or seat, there are so many fruits. We extend kindness and love. We die to our preferences and selfish tendencies. We grow in sacrificial love. We are freed from our disordered desires to delve deeper into the heart of Christ.
First in Service
Jesus taught the apostles that vying for places of honor was not a mark of greatness. The most important condition for greatness is found in serving others.
St Francis de Sales said: “Great occasions for serving God come seldom, but little ones surround us daily.”
Numerous opportunities present themselves every day in which we can serve.
If we want to be first, let us be the first to serve, the first to take the lowest place, the first to anticipate the needs of others, and the first to reach out to someone in love.
If we want to be great, let us drink the chalice of sufferings woven into our present circumstances, knowing Jesus is our strength.
In this way, we will be truly great, because in this way, we imitate our Beloved Jesus.