In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus speaks of two common yearnings of the human heart: the desire to be important and the desire to belong. Oftentimes, people seek greatness through academic, athletic, artistic or career accomplishments, or by the accumulation of riches. Jesus teaches us in today’s Gospel that greatness is achieved when one assumes the position of the least, making oneself the servant of all. The greater the effort one exerts in striving to serve others, the more abundantly one will be blessed in one’s life. A basic human desire is to belong, to be part of a group, to relate to others who have similar interests in life. Groups can feel threatened if they think that others are infringing upon their territory.
Jesus teaches us that we need not fear other people who are doing good work. These people are not against us. They are allies in our goal of making the world a more peaceful and loving place. Desire is a gift from God and it is meant to move us to do creative and loving things. Desire inspires magnificent works of art, moves us into loving relationships with others and prompts generous acts of charity. We must stay vigilant that our desires are properly directed and do not lead us astray.
Today, Jesus challenges us to seek greatness in serving others, and to work with those who hold the common goal of making the world a better place to live in. The vision of Jesus was not one of power, status and honor. Rather, in God’s kingdom, one who serves the needs of others is the greatest. This was a radical teaching for the disciples to hear. It is also radical for us today.