Who is the Greatest?

Matthew 20:17-28
Jer 18: 18-20/ Ps 31: 5-6. 14. 15-16/ Mt 20: 17-28

Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.
(Matthew 20:26)

When we serve for our salvation
Don’t put your seat above the rest;
To be meek in our intention,
Is to be sure we serve Him best.

Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” He asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:17-28)


Instead of jockeying for positions of authority or power, Jesus told His apostles that they should seek the opportunity to serve others (like a slave) in order to become great in God’s kingdom. Service is the best antidote against selfishness, just as personal ambition is its manifest expression.

Victor Frankl, a prisoner and survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, observed that the prisoners who were most helpful to others were the ones who persevered, and sustained their strength and sanity till the end of their captivity. There is something about serving others that gives meaning to the saying that “the more you give, the more you will receive.” Men and women of power, prestige and status never reached their golden years of fulfillment like Mother Teresa or Pope John Paul II did.

There is a story told by a sister in our community about a lady psychologist and accomplished ballet dancer that she met, whom we will call Cherry. At the peak of her career, she contracted a rare skin disease and ovarian cancer. When her doctor told Cherry that she had only two years left to live, she decided to spend the rest of her life helping the least of God’s children. She took into her care children of the poor who were lame, paralyzed, handicapped, malnourished, or retarded. She taught them how to play the piano, read, do housework, and helped them financially with their studies, giving them hope and dignity. Cherry dedicated the remainder of her life to serving the poor, giving them a better chance in life, and in return her life was extended for another fifteen years. She gave up her life for Jesus, but in the process she gained it back, for as our Lord said, “whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Mt. 10:39)

Lord, make me a servant of Your kingdom, because it is in seeking to serve You through others that I can be great in Your Father’s eyes. AMEN.

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