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Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

My dear encountered couples:

The themes of humility and service are at the heart of the gospel reading today. “The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus was always able to model humility. He was gentle in his teaching of humility. The apostles chose to be his humble followers. Yet, pride must have smoldered in their young hearts, as it likely does in ours. They were arguing about which of them was the greatest. Sound familiar? Jesus was listening to them and “realized the intention of their hearts.” Was Jesus disappointed or frustrated with his disciples? After all, these men had been chosen to be servants to one another and to the people. Yet, here they were having a petty argument about who among them was the greatest.

Power! Throughout history, power and acclaim have dominated politics, religion and social status. It is natural and healthy that all human beings desire a certain amount of power. We all need a moderate amount of power in order to make choices for ourselves. This enables us to choose to have loving, healthy and productive lives. Yet as we know, the desire for power often corrupts, be that in the family, the Church, institutions, business or politics. The intense desire for power often is the downfall of someone who has great potential.

Today Jesus is disturbed that his disciples are so concerned about who is the greatest among them, which could be translated as the one who “has the most power.” Jesus does not directly confront his disciples. Rather he brings a child into their midst and says to them: “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me also receives the One who sent me.” Jesus then continues: “The one who is least among you is the one who is the greatest.”

Today may be a good day to ask ourselves: Are we content with being among the least? Or do we strive for power or influence? Can we be satisfied to be “one with the people” rather than a star or a leader? Today I also invite you to be attentive to those individuals you encounter who truly embody Jesus’ call to be the “least” (in a healthy way)! They can be a living example for us.

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