Saturday, September 22, 2012

Be the Last

Be the Last

September 23, 2012
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2100 B

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.  With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience.  Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.  Wisdom 2:17-20

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.  But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.  James 3:16-18

"If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."  Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me."  Mark 9:35b-37


Piety is the richness of the ways our lives imitate Christ.  He had everything and emptied himself out of all that belonged to him as God to be truly human and one of us.  He gives us the example of living his life for the sake of another.  Piety treats everyone as better than oneself because it allows us to be like a little child who does not have any pretensions to greatness.  Piety captures the wisdom of God because it is pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, and full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.  Piety brings peace to those who live their lives in the same love that Christ has for each of us.  In giving our life for others we are like Christ.  We possess the love of God for us by having the same love for others that Christ had for us.  We repeat the Father’s love for his Son in repeating the same love Christ has for us.  Piety has its problems in the reactions of bad people to goodness that by its example reproaches the evil in another.  Piety has a simplicity that allows one to be childlike even as taking care of children allows one to receive Christ and the one who sent Christ into our world.


Christ predicts his passion a number of times.  The disciples do not want to hear what Jesus says about how his message is received.  I look at the ways I have been afraid to say what I was thinking and realize I am like the Apostles.  When I hold back what I should say, I see how that is not very childlike.  Children blurt out what they are thinking.  Childish is not childlike.  Selfishness is where sinfulness takes root.  Selflessness is living our lives for the sake of others.  How we open our hearts to the moment we are in can make us childlike.  Children live the fullness of their moments.  They are loud and clear in the present moments of their lives.  We study how to be true to ourselves in Christ.  Christ was a realist and read the hearts of those around him.  He was true to himself.


Actions allow us to die with Christ that we might rise in him.  We follow in his footsteps as we pray and search out our destiny in what is happening around us.  We take the risk of having people laugh at us and do what otherwise we might not have done if we were trying to protect ourselves from those who are looking for trouble.  We try to treat others as better than ourselves that we might have the same mind in us that was in Christ Jesus.  The only thing we can ever change in life is how well we give ourselves to others.  Our time and our energy show how we treat another.  If we make the one we are with important in our hearts, not just our minds, we can change the world we are living in to what Christ and the reign of Christ ask of us.  The greatness we aspire to is derived from treating everyone as better than ourselves.  The words of St.  Theresa of Avila come into play as we realize that if another had our graces they would be able to do twice as much.  We put out the best we are capable of doing when we put our hearts in what we do.  Thus we can receive Christ and the One who sent him.

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