“Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.” (Mark 10:43)
The desire for greatness is something that is in-built in every single human being. Having being created in the image and likeness of a great God, we have in our DNA a longing for self-actualization. In today’s Gospel passage, we see two brothers who were not ashamed to tell Jesus of their aspiration for greatness.
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.”
A student who desires straight A’s must be ready to drink the chalice of hardwork and burn the midnight candles. Even getting to heaven involves having to drink the cup of pain and sacrifice. On the night of his arrest at the garden of Gethesemane, when Jesus was face to face with this same chalice he begged God: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39).
Jesus then goes on to say. “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” In other words, even after we have made great efforts, it is entirely up to God to reward our sacrifices.
The other disciples became jealous of James and John. Note again that Jesus did not find any fault in their aspiration instead he told them the secret of achieving greatness: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” The key to greatness is to serve others.
The life of St. Philip Neri who we celebrate today also sheds light on service of others; sacrificial service. Every priest literally offers himself and chooses to live a life of hard renunciations to be available to the people of God. Such was the life of St. Philip Neri, a missionary priest and founder of Congregation of the Oratory.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give the grace I need to humble myself so as to achieve my deepest aspiration for greatness. Amen.
Bible Study: Sirach 36:1-2,5-6a,11-17, Psalm 79 and Mark 10:32-45).