Monday of the Twenty-SixthWeek in Ordinary Time
Being small to be great
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.” Lk 9,46-50
Jesus has just spoken to his disciples about his passion: “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men” (Lk 9,44). They did not listen to what Jesus told them and they continued to think of their human projects, as if the fate of the Master would not concern them. The discussion which has taken them is also frequent in the Church, but it is not admitted not to be ashamed. Like the first disciples, each one cultivates within himself the desire to be the biggest and he contends to the others the primacy, thinking to be successful as a person before God. It is hard to realize that to be the first means to give up the prestige, the domain and the possession, all of which, when someone has reached a certain role, then it may be waived, but the difficulty is to give it up before. Because the smallness and the ridiculous of certain thoughts are soon perceived, it is not dared to be confessed, like the disciples in the today’s passage, who speak only to each other. It is difficult to accept that the real achievement passes through the humility, the service, the poverty and the desire not to emerge. Jesus knows all of this and now he does not miss the opportunity to pursue his educational role of Master. Then he takes a child, puts him aside and he says: “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is the least among all of you is the one who is the greatest”. What he says now is so true that it can be regarded as his testament, before delivering himself to the soldiers to die on the cross. Jesus, after having washed the feet of the apostles, says: “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet” (Jn 13,12-14). It is an immense thing, easy to understand, but difficult to apply, so much so that Jesus adds: “If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it” (Jn 13,17). It is for this reason that the Church, to follow the footsteps of the Master, must always think of the weak, of the poor, of the defenceless and of the last one. In our summer parish of Castiglioncello this is done systematically, every day, and this is why we love it.