by Sister Sally Ann Brickner
"If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." (Mark 9:35)
Media of today saturates us with lists of the best, of the greatest. Films, books, colleges, beauty queens, peacemakers, scientists, automobiles, businesses, athletes -- all are ranked, with individuals aspiring to be "at the top of the game" in their respective fields. Arguments even erupt about the criteria used to develop the rankings and the wisdom of the judges.
The Scripture readings for Sunday reveal a different picture of greatness. We see Jesus spending private time with His disciples and painstakingly teaching them what constitutes discipleship in God's Reign. He tells them about His forthcoming crucifixion and being raised up. His Way is the path of suffering. He also says that jealousy and ambition have no place among His followers. True greatness, He says, lies in a type of "downward mobility." By embracing the least and most vulnerable - i.e., a little child - the disciple is embracing Jesus Himself AND the One who sent Him.
Jesus' disciples had great difficulty accepting this lesson, just as we do. So Jesus took another approach during the Last Supper. He stooped and washed His disciples' feet. Perhaps He thought that this action would bring His message "home" more convincingly.
As a disciple of Jesus, has His lesson of "downward mobility" taken hold in my life? Who are the least and most vulnerable that I embrace and serve today? Whose "feet" have I washed lately?
Prayer: Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like Yours.
Downward mobility certainly seems my path, but jealousy continues to creep in...and a little self pity.
Thank you for this clear and concise commentary on the example of Jesus, and for the questions to help us focus on our own opportunities to follow his example.