THIRTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Green) Cycle A/Year I (November 5, 2017) Mal 1:14-2:8-10/ 1 Thes 2:7-9, 13/Mt 23:1-12
If we are to be asked if we want to become great especially in the eyes of the people around us, certainly we will say that we want it. People of different times and places have wanted to become great and some succeeded in good ways and others in evil ways. Every man desires to become great in one way or another. This desire to become great seems to be already part of our human nature. God created us in His image and likeness and this divine thing within ourselves craves to express itself by wanting to become great.
In the creation story, we see how Adam and Eve wanted to become great like God. They wanted to become gods. The greatness and immensity of the image of God within themselves simply could not be contained by the very limited and weak human body. In their desire to become great, they succumbed to the temptation of Satan by disobeying the will of God, eating the fruit of the forbidden tree.
The story of Cain, killing his own brother Abel and the story of the tower of Babel are but stories of how men would like to become great and superior to everyone. The stories of Hannibal, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Mussolini, Napoleon Bonaparte, Hitler, and other modern dictators are stories of greatness that in the end turned out to be tragedies. They became stories of desire for becoming great and they succeeded it using illegal and immoral ways. But now, they are stories of men who committed great faults and sins.
There are on the other hand people who in the eyes of their contemporaries were simple persons but now in our eyes are great people. The stories of St. Francis of Assisi and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta are but examples of stories of people who did not dream to be great in the eyes of people but in the end have become great and influential even in our present days. If we are to examine their lives, we can see the secret behind their success, that is, they simply desired to become great in the eyes of God and not in the eyes of men.
Created in the image and likeness of God, we will always want to become great. But the question is: What way do we choose to fulfill our desire? The answer can be found in the words of Jesus Christ in this Sunday Gospel: “The greatest among you must be your servant” (Mt. 23:11). There is only one way to become really great, which is, serving others. The ill-famed people reached to such cruel end because they wanted to be served. For them, becoming great is becoming master and lord of all.
We have to recognize that there is only one master and one Lord and that is Jesus Christ, our Savior. He is God yet He did not deem equality with God. He incarnated and became like us except in sin. He did not come to be served but to serve. He sacrificed His life as a ransom for many, so that we might attain salvation and eternal life. Jesus Christ is the real great man and He is great simply because He served the humanity by loving the people and offering His time, energy and even life in the service of humanity.
So many in our present society are doing all they can to become great. They use their power, position, influence, money and fame to reach the peak of being great. Even for us simple people, our desire to become great is very present in our heart and mind although not manifested in our action and deeds. Let the words of Jesus Christ in the gospel serve as a reminder for all of us. If we really want to become great, let it be in the eyes of God because only that greatness will endure forever. Such can only be realized by following the words of Jesus: serve others. The real great men are the ones who serve others and not themselves. They are the ones who make others feel great and not feel small in their presence. They are the ones who show their greatness by the way they treat little people.