Sunday, September 23, 2012

Homily - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time B

Our readings today tell us very much about how we are wired as human beings.

Our first reading from the book of Wisdom speaks of lashing out at a good person because his goodness reminds us of how bad we are.

The second reading speaks of our natural tendencies of jealousy and selfish ambition,

And how these are usually the cause for all disorder in society.

Finally our Gospel discusses the urge we have to be esteemed as the greatest.

So today, we get the opportunity to discover what true greatness is and how to rid ourselves of the counterfeit greatness.

This desire for counterfeit greatness is the cause of arguing among the Apostles.

But there is hope for them.

They are silent when Jesus questions them.

Perhaps they have been around him long enough that they start to realize that to want to be regarded as the greatest, is not His way.


First of all, Jesus is telling us today that true greatness is in service, not power.

Even though we are wired to think that being the greatest means that we have the most power,

Jesus challenges that mindset.

He says that being the greatest means we become the servant of all.


Here’s an example of this.

From time to time these groups pop up that push for women’s ordination.

Many times they are women religious.

Do they want ordination because it will give them power?

Or do they want ordination because they are eager to serve?

I have a hunch that it’s about power.

There are millions of ways to serve in the Church without being ordained.

There are millions of ways to become great by becoming the servant of all.


We do not need ordination to serve.

Look at mother Teresa,

One of the greatest people of our time.

Was she great because she had power?

No, she was great because of her endless service,

Her radical service, if you will.

She never stopped.

She would be the first to acknowledge, as Pope John Paul II did, that the church doesn’t have the authority to invent a female clergy.

All the Church does is take what we have received from Christ and pass it on to the next generation.

The church delivers the mail, she doesn’t edit the mail.


But I digress.

This homily is not about that.

It’s about service in love.


At my previous assignment in Sidney, Ohio, we had a teen bible study every week.

Almost every week, the issue of power vs. love comes up as we go through the Bible.

People who read the Bible through the lens of being power hungry think parts of it are sexist.

But when we read the Bible through the lens of wanting to love and serve, it makes a lot more sense.

We see that it’s not sexist.

We see that we are called to a higher standard of love and service.

We see that we are to imitate Christ who laid down his life for his bride, the Church.


Secondly, Jesus uses the example of a child.

Receive a child, then we receive Jesus, and we receive not only Jesus, but the Father.

In the time of Jesus, children were the lowest of the low in society.

They had no rights.

So what is he telling us?

Receive the non great.

Embrace the non great.

Then we will embrace Jesus and the Father.

So we are challenged to ask ourselves today

Who are the non great in our society that we could embrace?


Jesus sets the bar very high.

We become great only by serving.

And we embrace those who are not great.

And we are the ones who are to set the example for the rest of the world.

Only our actions of love and service will show the love of Christ.