Who is Greatest?

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Monday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 9:46-50

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”


Opening Prayer: Lord, I come before you today as a child of God. I want to have the simple trusting disposition you hold up as an example. Bless me, Lord.


Encountering Christ:


  1. He Knows Us: It’s almost comical that the disciples argued within earshot of Jesus, the Son of God, about who was the greatest. Jesus didn’t laugh at them, however. Nor did he rebuke or punish them. Instead, with gentleness and compassion, he taught them a lesson about humility. We need never fear that Jesus will laugh at our ideas or punish us for grumbling. He knows our thoughts before we think them. Nothing keeps him from loving us completely! “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him” (1 John 4:16).
  2. The Greatest: Who is the greatest in our day? The all-star athlete? The billionaire CEO? The Hollywood beauty? Our culture adulates lots of people Jesus would not necessarily call “great.” Jesus tells us we are truly great when we do good in his name. He appreciates the hidden, humble, willing to serve–not a king or a president–but a child. Jesus asks us to put aside any desire we have for the spotlight and, as St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”
  3. On the Team: Apparently the apostles had preconceived notions about who could participate in Jesus’s ministry. On the south side of Chicago a few years back, I spent an afternoon learning that Jesus’s followers come in many shapes and sizes. A burly moving man blessed me, an African Uber driver shared his love of Jesus with me, and a bartender later at the hotel sent me off to my room with a kind smile and a complimentary glass of chardonnay. Exhausted after a long day and far from home, I thanked God for accompanying me in so many unexpected ways. These strangers had been part of God’s ministry to me. “Whoever is not against you is for you,” Jesus said. 


Conversing with Christ: Lord, it’s natural to want to be good at something, to want to excel to greatness, to leave a legacy. But you measure success differently than I tend to. Great accomplishments are to be done for your glory. Filling day to day moments with love for another also glorifies you. I want to embrace your criteria for greatness so that I may one day be with you for all eternity.

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will do a hidden act of kindness for your glory.

For Further Reflection: Read more about St. Teresa of Calcutta in Come Be My Light.


Written by Maribeth Harper.

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