Sep 19: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37
The fortieth anniversary of the United Nations in 1983, the Secretary General introduced St. Teresa of Calcutta, “I present to you the most powerful woman in the world!” For many years, the world watched, and loved this small, elderly nun, as the incarnation of humble and sacrificing Christian service. She was the living proof of Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel that real greatness lies in serving others. She did this with love and compassion. On Sept. 5, 1997, the day of the death of this saint who lived with us, practicing what Jesus commanded His disciples to do, Pope St. John Paul II said: “Mother Teresa marked the history of our century with courage. She served all human beings by promoting their dignity and respect, making them feel the tenderness of God.
Today’s readings invite us to become great in the sight of God by doing God’s will, as Jesus did, surrendering our lives to Him in the service of others. Jesus also teaches his apostles that child-like humility and selfless service make one great in the eyes of God. In the second reading St. James warns us that selfish ambitions destroy peace and cause conflicts and war. So, St. James advises us to choose the path of righteousness and humble service which leads to lasting peace.
Jesus says that people who serve humbly are the greatest. Presenting a child before them, Jesus explains that one who wishes to be the first among them must be a servant to all. True greatness consists in serving one’s fellow men and is never self-centered. It is the ability to see and respond to the needs of others, and it presupposes compassion and sympathy.
The two conditions of true greatness are humility and service. The Christian vocation is an apostolate of bearing witness to Christ through loving, humble service. John Wesley, a theologian, gives us this motto on service: “Do all the good you can; By all the means you can; In all the ways you can; In all the places you can; At all the times you can; To all the people you can; As long as ever you can.”
Greatness, in Jesus’ view, is found in our willingness to accept, welcome and serve those who are considered unacceptable. If we are to be truly great, we must be ready to accept four challenges: (1) to put ourselves last, (2) to be the servant of all, (3) to receive the most insignificant human beings with love, and (4) to expect nothing in return.
During the holy Mass let us pray for the true spirit of service, for an attitude of love for those around us. May the Holy Spirit help us to become truly great through humble, selfless service. St. Teresa of Calcutta says: “Be the living expression of God’s kindness through humble service; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile and kindness in your warm greeting.” Here is the motto of the Missionaries of Charity, the order of nuns founded by Mother Teresa:
The fruit of Silence is Prayer.
The fruit of Prayer is Faith.
The fruit of Faith is Love.
The fruit of Love is Service.
And the fruit of Service is Peace.