Living the Call to Greatness – 25th Sunday of Kingdomtide ~ Br. Michael Marshall, Novice

8531186_origWisdom 2:12, 17-20

The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

James 3:16-4:3

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure,
then peaceable, gentle, compliant,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
for those who cultivate peace.

Where do the wars
and where do the conflicts among you come from?
Is it not from your passions
that make war within your members?
You covet but do not possess.
You kill and envy but you cannot obtain;
you fight and wage war.
You do not possess because you do not ask.
You ask but do not receive,
because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee,
but he did not wish anyone to know about it.
He was teaching his disciples and telling them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men
and they will kill him,
and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.”
But they did not understand the saying,
and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?”
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”

Donald Trump… Bill Gates… They are probably the most well-known extremely wealthy people in the world. They are where they are because they worked hard and possibly made extremely risky decisions, yet both are necessarily the most popular people with some socio-economic classes of folks. Donald Trump has been thought to have trampled upon others to acquire more and more of his wealth, and his arrogance shows he is not concerned for anybody but himself. On the other hand, Bill Gates is a little different. He has taken a computer software company from infancy to becoming the only real competitor to Apple; to the point that a PC not only runs Windows but other programs are so integrated into Windows, where Microsoft essentially has a monopoly within the computer world. In light of the success of Bill Gates, he has given to charity. He has been part of community service, helping those in need. Both individuals possess success because of what they have accomplished, yet what sets them apart is what they have done with that success.

We read in the Gospel that Jesus has been listening into the conversation between his Apostles; a conversation about who is the greatest, yet Jesus does not scold them for having the conversation. He does not tell his Apostles that it is wrong to strive for greatness and success, wanting to excel. He says it is only human nature to possess those desires, but it is what they do, or how they carry out actions, that truly determine greatness. He explains that following what God has instructed is what greatness is all about. One is to make a positive difference in the world by being a witness of God’s love, to give of oneself rather than focusing on the material and stature greatness.

How many times have we dreamt about wanting a little more money, wanting a better job with distinction, thinking that we would be happier in life? It is human nature to have those thoughts, and it is not wrong or sinful to have those things. It is just what we do in life with what resources we DO have that truly brings happiness, happiness to us AND God. Is it our purpose to be like Donald Trump, to acquire more and more, and to push others around? Or should we help our neighbor in need, using part of what we have for others? God commanded us to love one another, and that living that way is where greatness lies.

So… How can we go about doing this???  Here are some examples… Volunteer to read to home-bound folks, buy lunch for the next person in line at McDonald’s, be the ear for someone who needs to talk about tough issues in their life, but even better yet, it can be a smile and a hello as you walk past someone one on the sidewalk.  We are called to greatness through actions such as these!