What is greatness?
Greatness can mean many things. It could be about being looked up to after earning the esteem of others, like what the disciples desired and argued about in the gospel. But what Jesus probably meant by greatness is the nobility and greatness of the spirit and to share in the greatness of God by being totally conformed and united with Him. It is not easy. Jesus said that to be great is to be the least and the servant of all.
I cannot recall an instance when I dreamt of being the least, or desired to be a servant. I know I have had wild imaginings and aspirations of being awfully rich, so that I would not dirty my shoes. I noticed that some rich people rarely set their feet on soil, because most of the time, they were dropped off by their dainty cars, right in front of their destination, where they only walk on pavements, elegantly tiled floorings and carpets. I also dreamed of popularity, where a simple smile and a slight wave is enough to set people’s hearts inspired.
But this is so far from the real meaning of greatness that Jesus wanted. I remember from our St. John of the Cross Spirituality class, the saint said that the ascent to the peak of the mountain of Union, the union with God and sharing His greatness, can only be achieved through the seven-fold nadas or ‘nothings.’ Seven-fold nadas indirectly mean being totally stripped of any attachment. It is about complete nothingness, the same as being empty or the least. In one part of the gospel, Jesus taught His disciples to bring with them nothing. In another part, He told them to give their tunics to those who would ask for their cloak. Jesus knows too well that it will not be easy to climb the steep paths of greatness and union, carrying so much baggage. It is easy to travel empty-handed.
Being a seminarian who aspires for this conformity and union with Jesus, I am invited to be the least, and to journey light – to be able to easily identify myself with the least of my neighbors and serve them with all that I am.
By: Sem. Tristan Ralf Q. Pacheco
The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her,
“What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”