October 17, 2021 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/101721.cfm)
“Great power comes with great responsibility”. Surely you have heard of these words before. These are the very words of Peter Parker alias “Spiderman” and the very message of the movie “Spiderman 1”. Perhaps you may have only heard these words now, Stan Lee, the creator of the cartoon-animation “Spiderman” however is wise-enough to remind and teach us that indeed “Great power comes with great responsibility”. And the same message we can learn from our gospel today.
In today’s gospel, we hear how the disciples were indignant and quarrelling about some members who were asking from the Lord for favor. Wanting to have a share in the coming Lord’s glory, all of them were into power-tripping and power-struggle as to who is and should be the greatest amongst them. Not giving in to their own hunger for power and greatness, Jesus instead reminds them of His mission and identity as “not to be served, but to serve and to lay down one’s life for the many”. He also warns them of the demands of following Him towards God’s glory and salvation. For Jesus, to have a share in God’s glory by means of following Him as His disciples, requires great responsibility, for it involves power and authority as well as coming persecutions and sufferings. To be disciple of Jesus – to be His follower towards God’s salvation and glory then is indeed not only a great honor and privilege but moreso, a great responsibility. Thus “Great power comes with great responsibility.”
Like his disciples of old, we do wish to have a share and privilege in God’s glory. As we try our best to follow the Lord in our life now, we also do need to be great and to feel great in life. Normally we do need to be recognized, acknowledged, and rewarded for all our efforts and struggles in life. We do aspire for a place – a honorable seat or office in God’s glory. We do want to be credited and honored for ourselves at the Lord’s glory in God’s salvation. Be as it may, Jesus however teaches us a lot today about having our share in His glory and God’s greatness.
First, to be in God’s greatness is not all about us, you and I, having a share but moreso about we having participated and involved in God’s work of salvation for all. Being in God’s greatness then is not all about we having honored, credited, and rewarded with God’s glory, but instead about how we allow ourselves to be instruments of God’s grace to and for others. In others words, our greatness in God’s glory is not about us – being great, but about how God’s glory and greatness are revealed in us and shared through us. Moreover, our greatness in God’s glory lies in our selfless service for God and others. To be great in God’s glory is possible then because we serve and can serve God and others. By our loving service for God others, we can be great. As Jesus reminds us, greatness is not about being first and lording over others, but instead about being servant of all. And above all, our greatness in God’s glory happens whenever we take responsibility for God and others.
Simply said then, we may and can have a share of our own greatness & power in God’s glory if and whenever we allow ourselves to participate in God’s work of salvation now by our loving service and being responsible for God and others more than own selves. As a wise man once said, “Your gifts are not about you; your leadership is not about you; your purpose is not about you. A life of significance is about Serving those who need your gifts, your leadership and your purpose.” Greatness then comes not only with power but also responsibility and service for other than oneself.
As nowadays election fever & politicking virus is in the air, beyond buying & selling power & greatness, at the end of the day, we don’t need great & powerful leaders but we want & choose Responsible Leaders for such political power & authority requires Responsibility.
With these thoughts, we pray with St. Ignatius…
Teach us to be generous, teach us to serve you as we should, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and ask not for reward, save that of knowing that I do you most Holy will. Amen.