This Sunday’s Gospel finds the disciples struggling with a problem that is common in
our own society – the cult of celebrity. They want to be ‘the greatest.’ Recognition
from others, being regarded by the world around them as important is the temptation
into which they are at risk of falling. One of the consequences of the desire for
greatness is jealousy. Ambition in the purely human sense can lead to hardness of
heart – something which James addresses in the extract from his letter that we hear
St Paul writes of ‘ambition for the higher gifts.’ This brings its own difficulties, as we
hear in the Book of Wisdom, for virtue is not always understood or appreciated by
those around us, for it is often not ‘the way of the world.’
Jesus calls us to a different way and it is not for nothing that the
disciples conversation follows Jesus’ foretelling of his Passion, Death and
Resurrection. The way to ‘greatness’ in the real sense of that word is found through
the taking up of the Cross, in service of others and in a real openness to the
simplicity that is found in child-like trust.
This is not an easy path. Christ does not call us to be child-ish, but child-like. We
must trust in Him, as the virtuous man in the reading from the Book of Wisdom trust
in God – even in the face of persecution.
Our service, especially of those who are vulnerable in our world, must be
thoroughgoing – for this is the model that Jesus gives us. Let us, then, take up the
cross in service and in simplicity. This is the way to real greatness – not the
greatness of celebrity, but something so much more wonderful – the
greatness beyond measure that is the love and mercy of the Father.
With every Blessing, Bishop Richard.
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