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(Part 49)


May 22, 2018
Today’s gospel: Mark 9:30-37

The apostles “had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.” (v.34b). Now our theme this year is “Destined for Greatness.” We have been discussing and will continue to discuss about our call to greatness and the great work we are supposed to do. This is to understand God’s call, so that we can strive to be and do what God wants for us. It is not so that we will fall into sinful pride.

How do we keep from falling into sinful pride?

First, it is to know the meaning of authentic servant leadership. It is basically this: the leader is the servant. “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” (v.35b). In the Kingdom, the greatest is the least, the first is the last, the high is the lowly. Servant leaders are not to be served but to serve, and give their lives as a ransom for the many. Such lowliness precludes sinful pride.

Second, it is to take on the posture of a little child. “Taking a child he placed it in their midst” (v.36a). A child has nothing to boast of. He is totally dependent on grown-ups, he has no lofty status in the community, he has no great track record of accomplishments. Servant leaders of course are capable, though dependent upon God, have high positions in the body, though use such for service, and can achieve great things, though give the glory only to God.

Third, it is to be at the service of the poor and lowly. “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me” (v.37a). It is to serve the last, the least and the lost. Given the status of children then, they represented the anawim, the poor in spirit. Servant leaders are not in the environment of high society, or the company of the rich and famous, or in the corridors of power. They do not strut around like the Pharisees. They hold on to nothing that can foment sinful pride.

Fourth, it is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, in humble obedience to God. “Whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” (v.37b). Jesus humbled himself, accepting death on the cross. He is the King of kings, he is our Lord and Master, he is the Savior. But he came as a babe in the manger, had nowhere to lay his head, suffered ignominy at the hands of men, and descended into a dark tomb. No sinful pride there, as should be the case with us.

Continue discussing our theme for this year. But as the Lord asks you, “What were you arguing about on the way?” (v.33b), make sure you keep on the right track, seeking only to deepen your understanding of the true meaning of greatness in Christ.

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(Part 48)


May 14, 2018

Today’s gospel: John 15:9-17

We are destined for greatness because God chose us and sends us forth to do His work. Jesus says, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain” (v.16a). To be chosen by God is such a great privilege, but also a great responsibility. God has made Himself dependent upon His people to do His divine work.

We are to “bear fruit that will remain.” What ultimately remains is eternity. This brings us to the four last things, which in Christian eschatology, are death, judgment, heaven and hell. We will all die and everything will pass away. When we die, we are subject to judgment by God. In this there are only two outcomes: we either go to hell or to heaven (with Purgatory as transit). We will remain in that state forever.

Thus the most important thing is salvation. This is why the Father sent His very own Son to suffer and die for us, so that we might have the opportunity to make it to heaven. Thus the most important work of the body of Christ, the Church, is to help bring people to salvation. This is the work of evangelization and mission. Thus we are commissioned to go and proclaim the good news to all and to make disciples of the nations. This is fruit that remains.

What greater work could there be? What greater task could the Church have?

Now all of this is about God’s love. For God loved the world so that He sent His only Son so that with belief in Jesus we might attain to eternal life. We in turn are to manifest that same love. Thus Jesus commands us to love one another (v.12,17), and showed the way through his self-sacrificial love (v.13).

The work of evangelization is all about love. It is our love for God who loves us, who does not want anyone to be lost. It is our love for others, as the greatest gift they can receive is that of salvation. It is our love for the world, for peace and justice can reign only if the hearts of people are converted and the world turns to Jesus. It is our love for our families, as our children and grandchildren can only ultimately be protected and cared for if the world around them is less antagonistic to faith, family and life.

God chose us. God appointed us. God sends us. God expects us to bear fruit that will remain. We are destined for greatness.

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