Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection May 21, 2024


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R/. Entrust your cares to the Lord, and he will support you.

V/. Alleluia

R/. Alleluia

V/. Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

R/. Alleluia.

At that time: Jesus and his disciples went on from the mountain and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

1. In the gospel, the disciples were engaged in a discussion about who was the greatest. Today we are invited to reflect once again a little deeply and sincerely about our own concept, pursuit, and means of gaining that greatness. Jesus dispels the wrong notions of greatness and clarifies what it means to be truly great and how to become rightly great.

2. In the first place, real greatness is not something material. It does not consist in money and material possessions. Real greatness is not something merely social. It does not consist in power and position, status and prestige. Further, real greatness is not merely intellectual. It does not consist in great intellectual calibre, academic excellence, achievement, bundles of knowledge or reckoning honours of educative contribution.

3. Then what is true greatness? How does one obtain it? The gospel and the other readings make it clear. True greatness consists in not desiring to be placed over others, dominating and bossing over them. It is not eager to be first in power and position but first in service.

4. True greatness is commitment to God’s will and mission. Subsequently, it also implies the readiness and courage to face the consequences, to go through the ordeal of the way of the cross, even to the extent of death. This is what Jesus did. This is what we find in the lives of the prophets, the righteous exemplified by the suffering servant of Yahweh.

5. True greatness is receiving even children, that is the vulnerable, the uncountables and negligibles in the society. It accepts and respects them. This is contrary to the mindset that one becomes great by association with big people. This is why often we find that great people may have their own “social circles”, or “privileged elite”. They create an aura around them that there is an air of inaccessibility, unconcern and uninvolvement.

6. Further, true greatness consists in receiving the example of a child. Among numerous qualities of a child, are purity and guilelessness of heart, total trust and dependence on God, love for God and always seeking to please Him.

7. The second reading from the letter of James offers us some more pointers to true greatness. It is to be free from all greed, selfish ambition and arrogance. It is to be free from all disorder and every vile practice. True greatness essentially consists in “enmity with the world and friendship with God”.

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