“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be last of all and the servant of all.”

Mk 9: 35

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These are the words of Jesus to his disciples.  He speaks them after the disciples were discussing who among them was the greatest.

Have you listened to popular discourse?  What you hear in advertising?  In politics?  In common discourse and everyday banter?

Who in any popular venue reminds us that greatest arises in service to others? In putting another before you?  In deferring to another?  Such good questions in this culture.

In a culture that values the other person more than self, bragging is diminished. Self-promotion, too.

In a culture that gives the message that one must be first, stress and hostility are high, the tension rises and the behavior that it encourages is one of corner-cutting, slight of hand, slippery words and deception.

We need not live with the heavy burdens of having to be first or the greatest.  In a land of plenty can we not know that we need not be first?  Can we not see that another may need help?  Or enjoy the comfort of letting another go first, come before us?

Think about what you hear each day?  Does it promote peace and hospitality or tension and conflict?   It is time to listen carefully.  Don’t give yourself to what is destructive and unhealthy.

The race is not to the head of the line, the top of the heap.  No, the path we walk is to eternal life, its way is that of love and kindness, thoughtfulness and attention to others more than self.

Shalom.

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