The Last Shall Be First
Reflection on Readings For Sunday September 20th 2009
Wisdom 2:12-20; James 3:16-18; Psalm 54:3-8; Mark 9:30-37
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine mercy
This week’s readings have a series of powerful messages for us to consider. They talk about how people who boast about how great they are, how powerful they are could very well be in danger in God’s design of things. I have chosen a few of the passages from Sunday's readings for us to reflect upon and consider how and where we, and those in the public eye, are living them.
"Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is, first pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness". (James 3:16)
Where you have envy and selfish ambition, you find disorder and every evil practice. Envy and selfish ambition, how often have we and leaders of corporation, governments and churches followed those goals? How does the scripture tell us to overcome those evil conditions in our life? By seeking God’s wisdom and live a life that is considerate of others, full of mercy for those who are suffering because of poverty, illness or who have hurt us in some way. We are told to seek out peace not vengeance.
Remember what we are told in Romans 12:18-20; “Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, "I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it," says the Lord.” In James 3 we are told “The harvest of Righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” Since we are in the seasonal time of harvest, possibly we need to work harder than ever before to harvest peace between those with whom we have had disagreements. We need to try to find the common ground to settle the petty differences that have divided all who all claim to worship the one and same Creator God, The God of Abraham, Isaac, David, Jacob and the Almighty Father of Jesus Christ.
We have sown the seeds of discontent among the seeds of peace and goodwill. Now we need to harvest peace and goodwill and leave the discontent for the weeds to be burned and destroyed.
Mark’s gospel tells the story of how the apostles were arguing about who among them was the greater. Christ knew this, as He knows all of our thoughts, words and actions, and when they got to where they were to rest, Christ gathered them together and asked what they were discussing. When no one answered, Christ sat them down and told them; “Jesus sat down and called for the Twelve to come to him. Then he said, "If you want to be first, you must be the very last. You must be the servant of everyone. Jesus then took a little child and had the child stand among them. Then he took the child in his arms. He said to them, Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me. And anyone who welcomes me doesn't welcome only me but also the One who sent me."
Can Christ’s message to us be any clearer? If we wish to be a true leader, the first of firsts among people we need to become a servant to all. We need to have the innocence of a child that knows no anger or hatred. Hatred, violence, anger are lessons that are learned and then nurtured by people with agendas of their own.
Our only agenda in life should be to live, work and think of what Almighty God wants from us. We need to live our life attempting to emulate our Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ, in all of our daily lives.
We can begin doing this by examining how we relate to the issues that our family and the world are facing today. Do we judge people on how they look, their color, the church they attend, who their partner in life may be, how much money they have? We should judge them on how they are respectful of the needs of others, how they are always ready to help someone in trouble or need, by their love of Almighty God.
We live in troubled times. We hear many versions of how life is going to change for us by doing one thing or another. Politicians will be promoting their agendas over the next months all claiming to improve our lives. Television networks are all vying for our eyes claiming to be the #1 network that gives us the best news and entertainment. Advertisers tell us our lives will improve by using their product. The truth is the only way our lives will ever change is if we change them within our selves. Our lives and the world condition will only change when we begin to make a serious examination of our behavior and how closely it and our lives are being lived in relationship to Christ’s teachings. The challenge is ours alone. We can not be seeking to be the top gun but must be willing to be the servant. We need to become a servant of God, serving our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and work to harvest peace among all God’s children. May God give us the Wisdom to live according to His way. May God grant us patience, compassion, forgiveness, and courage to live according to his way so that we may be welcomed into His Kingdom with open and loving arms. AMEN.