In today’s Gospel Our Lord invites the apostles, and us, to revisit what we consider to be the path to greatness. As St. James reminds us in today’s Second Reading, jealously and selfish ambition only lead to discord. If we really want to be at peace with ourselves and with others, the path to greatness is the path of wisdom. It may provoke resentment on the part of those who don’t follow it, as is reflected in the wicked men conspiring in today’s First Reading, but it is the path to lasting peace, where people aren’t at war to get ahead at the expense of another or bitter that someone has achieved something that they haven’t.
Our Lord describes the path to greatness today as one of service, and not just any service. Even an ambitious person can seek to perform some service to achieve his ends. When Our Lord gives the example of serving a child, it’s like a cold bucket of water dumped on the disciples’ selfish ambitions. Babysitting is not high in anyone’s book in terms of a career, nor nanny, and, sadly, even in some circles of society the vocation to be a parent is avoided. But God reveals himself in terms of family relationships, and Our Lord tells us today to serve that child in his name in order to serve not only him, but Our Heavenly Father who sent him. No matter how great we become in the eyes of society we can never neglect even the least members of it, because our only ambition should be to serve. Nor can we forget that if we achieved anything in our life it was thanks to our parents.
Let’s ask Our Lord today to help us “get ahead” on the path of humility and service.
Readings: Wisdom 2:12, 17–20; Psalm 54:3–8; James 3:16–4:3; Mark 9:30–37.