Ordinary Time 12, Year C-2010
- Not as man sees does God see (1 Sam. 16:7)
The world distinguishes human beings in terms of, among other things, their race, nationality or ethnicity, their social status, their gender. The Christian vision, on the other hand, asserts: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The Christian vision flies in the face of worldly distinctions and assertions.
The world upholds, too, that being set apart, consecrated or anointed for a position of leadership means that the chosen leaders lord it over their followers and make their authority over their subjects felt (cf. Mt. 20:25-28; Mk. 10:42-45; Lk. 22:25-27). But it is not supposed to be so among Jesus’ followers, since anyone wishing to be great and first among them shall be their servant and slave, and take Jesus as a model to follow.
Jesus did not come to be served but to serve—as Bishop-elect David O’Connell, C.M., recently emphasized when he chose as his episcopal motto, ministrare non ministrari—and to give his life as a ransom. Jesus was the master and teacher who washed his disciples’ feet (Jn. 13:12-15). He was the Christ of God who, contrary to the world’s, and even his own followers’, expectation, would be subjected to great suffering and cruel death. His brazen defiance of worldly wisdom is evident is his teaching: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Jesus found true greatness not in those who wear fine clothing and live in royal palaces but rather in a prophet in the desert, John the Baptist, and in the least (Mt. 11:7-11). He likewise denounced those hypocrites who flaunted their righteousness as well as their wide phylacteries, long tassels and elegant long garments (Mt. 23:5).
And Jesus, needless to say, counts on his followers today to defy worldly wisdom and question conventional human assumptions. He expects them to take such a stance on immigration, poverty or gender issues that reflects his defiance and questioning of worldly values. They are not to settle simply for what meets the eye and is agreeable to the senses. When they take part in the Lord’s Supper, they are not supposed to be there just to indulge themselves without regard, much less respect, for the needy; otherwise they will fail to discern the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 11:17-34). They are to recognize him in the poor, mourning and grieving as they look on him whom they have pierced. Their defiance of worldly values should be such that they can truly and honestly proclaim that the weakness and foolishness of the cross are the power and wisdom of God and that they are strong when they are weak (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18-25; 2 Cor. 12:10). Standing with Jesus in affirming that it is more blessed to give than to receive, the followers of Jesus feel loved by God as they give cheerfully (Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7). Their vision must indeed fly in the face of worldly distinctions and assertions.