25th Sunday homily in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: Ambitious Christians
By: Rev. Fr. Anthony O. EZEAPUTA, MA.
Homily for Sunday September 19 2021
The great Carmelite saint and doctor of the Church once stated, “In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta interpreted this well-known quotation in terms of the most common human aspirations and ambitions. She explained, “At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked, and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
In today’s Gospel (Mark 9: 30-31), while Jesus announces his Passion, Death, and Resurrection to his disciples, his apostles categorically reject it (Mark 9: 31). They were more concerned with their own aspirations and ambitions, and as a result, they debated among themselves who should be considered “the greatest” (Mark 9:34). This unexpected response by the apostles provides us with an opportunity to reflect on ambition and ambitious Christians.
The term “ambition” derives from the Latin “ambire,” which means “to aspire to”, “to yearn for” and “to long for”. In ancient Rome, for example, it was said that candidates for office were accustomed to going about “ambire” soliciting votes. Additionally, they were referred to as “ambitio” for their aspiration, yearning, and longing for popular votes. And there is nothing wrong with their aspirations, yearnings, and longing to serve in positions of authority, including political offices.
So, ambition is not inherently evil. However, experience has demonstrated that failing to exercise due diligence will almost always result in grave sin. Frequently, overly ambitious individuals adhere to the maxim “the ends justify the means.” Ambition disguised as the aforementioned maxim may become a mortal sin if the means used to obtain the object of desire cause harm to oneself or another.
For instance, a certain magician, Simon Magnus, was so ambitious that he tried to use money to purchase the power to bestow the Holy Spirit from the Apostles. He says, “Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:18-19). Simon’s ambition was rebuked because he wanted sacred powers for his personal gain.
At the end of life, we will be judged by how we have used our ambitions and aspiration for the common good. We will be judged by how we have channeled our ambitions to lift one another. The measure of greatness is determined by our service and love. Hence, Jesus said to his apostles, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Let our ambition be to be humble, to serve, and to love. For service, love and humility go hand in hand. Therefore, let us aim to be ambitious through humble service and love.
Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 19, 2021