Fr. Mike’s Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (4)

Fr. Mike’s Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Theme: Greatness in Being Little

By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches


Homily for Sunday September 19 2021

Mk 8:30-37

During the time of Jesus – and this still happens until today in many parts of the world – children were considered as nobody. They have no rights, no power, no voice, and no value in society. But that was not how Jesus looked at them. For Jesus, children are not only great blessings but are of supreme importance in the kingdom of God: “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk 10:14-15). Furthermore, in the Gospel this Sunday, the Lord said: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me” (Mk 9:37).

Why did Jesus place a child in their midst? It should be noted that before this, Jesus was teaching His disciples about the necessity of undergoing His sufferings and death on the cross. And the Gospel said: “But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him” (Mk 9:32). Most likely, they heard Him very clearly, but they chose to close their minds and hearts to His teaching because they were obsessed with something else: they were discussing and arguing about who was the greatest among them. While Jesus was talking about His own struggle to become nothing through His self-offering on the cross, His followers were working out their selfish ambitions for power and shamelessly jostling for position. Instead of unity and cooperation, theirs was fierce competition.

This explains why there is so much trouble and conflict all around us. The famous author, T.S. Elliot said: “Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.” St. James is very clear on this: “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice… Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?” (James 3:16, 4:1).

So, Jesus placed in front of His disciples a small child – somebody who is nobody in society – in order to bring home the point that greatness is not in being first, not in having more, and not in being important. In the example of a child, greatness is in humility, simplicity, and total dependence on God. In other words, the child is the clear reflection of Jesus. He is like the little child in relation to His heavenly Father. That is why He said: “Whoever receives one such child as this in my name, receives me.”

In each one of us, there is the adult and the child part. The adult in us is more calculating and security-conscious, goal-oriented, and success-driven, ambitious, and proud. But the child in us is carefree and daring, more concerned about celebration and cooperation, has less interest in ambition, power and success, and does not think of failure and death. Receiving a child as Jesus teaches simply means to accept the child part of our personality. We do not discard the adult part, but we give chance to the child part to emerge, so that we will be less afraid, less ambitious, but more authentic in our feelings and expressions, and more willing to take the leap of faith to follow Jesus. In this kind of disposition, we learn to let go, and let God!

This is precisely what the Lord is teaching us when He said: “Anyone wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mk 9:35). We should not be afraid to be last, for we will be the first. We should not be afraid to be the least and the servant of all, for that is the key to true greatness. And let us not be afraid to be like little children, for that is the way to inherit the kingdom of God. A quotation aptly puts it: “It takes a lot of littleness in order to be great.” Are we looking for happiness and peace? Try what R.H. Benson realized: “To feel extraordinarily small and unimportant is always a wholesome feeling.”

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

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