Homily for 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: Achieving Greatness through Humility
By: Fr. Chibuike Uwakwe
Homily for Sunday September 19 2021
I had a funny experience during one of my apostolic works. I was posted to work in a parish and in the compound where I lived, there were lots of children. One afternoon, three children gathered beside my window and were arguing among themselves. They didn’t know I was around. They were arguing over who was my most beloved friend. The first claimed to be my most beloved friend because I gave her a gift the day she sang well. The second claimed that I always called her pet names while the third claimed that he was my companion who accompanied me during home visitations and other apostolate. They almost fought but I was wondering what brought about the argument. At the end, I could not but laugh at them.
Such experience is similar to the incident that happened in today’s gospel reading (Mark 9:30-37). The disciples were busy arguing who was the greatest among them just as the little children in our prologue were arguing who was the most beloved friend of the seminarian. Perhaps, Peter may have said, “I am the greatest because he called me the rock upon which he will build his Church”. Andrew may have said “Remember I always brought people to him”. John would have said “Wow! Have you forgotten that I am his most beloved”. Even Judas might have said “You cannot do without money, so as the financial secretary and treasurer, I am the greatest”. Imagine how disappointed Jesus would have felt hearing his disciples discuss such an irrelevant topic immediately after revealing to them, the impending danger that would befall him.
Often times in our lives, we feel very important and great before God. Perhaps, we occupy an important office in the church or may have sponsored a big Church project, etc and for these reasons, we claim to be very important and even indispensable in the Church. We want the whole world to prostrate before us. Each time we massage our ego or blow our achievements before God, it instills in us directly or indirectly, a feeling of negative pride. We should learn to realize that we cannot do enough for God who has done more than enough for us. Greatness before God is not an accomplishment but it is a divine gift.
However, the gift of greatness has a conditio sine qua non. Christ today gives us that necessary condition – humility. Humility is a virtue that prepares the ground for other virtues. Humility is considering yourself as an instrument of God and the good you do as God working in and through you. Humility makes us say I am sorry, it makes us listen, it makes us considerate, and it makes us serve. Humility is a childlike quality because it makes us less conscious of what we are or have achieved. It makes us consider ourselves as last of all and servants of all. It makes us suffer for the good of others and gives us the disposition to accept persecution for Christ’s sake.
These qualities, we see in Christ who “though was God, did not count equality with God”, “he humbled himself and took on the form of a servant (cf. Philippians 2:5-8). He willfully accepted death from those he came to save. He is, in fact, the virtuous one talked about in the first reading (Wisdom 2:12.17-20). His humility, gentleness and patience were put to the test. He was condemned to a shameful death yet he did not revolt. By this, Jesus teaches us to count on nothing but his grace. He gives us an example to follow and through his disciples discourages every form of rivalry or quest for ambition among us. He gives us the secret of greatness which is humility. To be a leader we must learn to serve, to be first, we must learn to be last, to be the greatest we must learn to be the least and to live we must learn to die.
Therefore beloved friends, are you having inordinate ambitions, seeking vain glory or greatness among God’s people, seeking for power and recognition in the Church or State or proud because of your achievements? Then know that you are not living the true spirit of Christ. As the second reading (James 3:16-4:3) reminds us, avoid useless ambitions which rob the society of peace and try to pray for all you want instead of going about it with jealousy and rivalry. It is only in doing this that we can join the psalmist today to say “The Lord upholds my life” (Psalm 53) for he has been my help. God loves you. Happy Sunday.
Fr. Chibuike Uwakwe