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The greatest in the kingdom

Gospel Reading: Lk 9:46-50
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.”

The Gospel describes two incidents at the close of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. In the first, the disciples are haggling over who has the greatest position in the disciples’ Hall of Fame. Jesus knows of their petty dispute, so he takes a child and points out to them the value of receiving such a child (who is culturally viewed as powerless and irrelevant). The one who receives this child also receives the one who sent Jesus.

Stature is not a matter of popular perception but simply of being human. Even a normally disregarded child has stature. To make the least the greatest is to make all great. There are no unimportant people. Second, ministry is not a copyrighted monopoly. The disciples have seen someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Since this person is not one of them, they have tried to stop him.

Jesus tells the disciples that they are wrong. Whoever is not against them is on their side. Ministry should not be limited to a select few. Jesus wants all to serve and encourages all to do so. His remark that “whoever is not against you is for you” reflects the proverbial wisdom in Jewish culture, such as the attitude of Moses toward Eldad and Medad (cf Nm 11:26-30). Moses was glad others were being led by the Lord to do his work.

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When the least is the greatest, then the search for greatness becomes unnecessary

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.