Monday, October 02, 2006

Who is the greatest?

Forget "to be or not to be." "Who is the greatest?" That is the real question. And today's Gospel for the feast of the Guardian Angels puts it to us.
It's easy to be amused by the up-front manner in which the disciples ask that question of Jesus. It is like the over-the-top posturing in gangsta culture and certain Middle Eastern cultures. We would be so much more subtle. (That's why we have titles in our corporations and society pages in our newspapers and pecking orders in just about any group.) We want to know the same thing the disciples wanted to know: how to be Number One. 
And Jesus says that it is necessary to "turn and become like children"; to "humble oneself." To be a servant, he says in several other places. This is reflected also in St. Paul's famous hymn in Philippians, where he points to the example of Christ who "emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and humbled himself still more by accepting death on a cross."
I found myself this weekend on the disciples' side of the question, though in a typically "subtle" way. It is such a subversive mentality! But the answer always remains, "empty yourself" of yourself, to recognize and respond to the "Great and Holy One" whose presence the Angels always see and adore.

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