Exodus 28-30; Matthew 20

Matthew 20:26-27 “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.”  A few years ago there was a cable miniseries called “Rome” which purportedly was the most accurate portrayal of Roman life yet, set about fifty years before the birth of Christ, centering on the life of Julius Caesar.  What jumped out at me was how relationships were based on power.  Mercy was considered weakness.  A human being only had dignity to the degree one had power; slaves had no dignity.  In this context it is easy to see how revolutionary Jesus’ words were, how they could be so galling to the scribes and the Pharisees, so attractive to those who were considered beneath human dignity.  Christianity is a religion of paradox: the yoke is easy, the burden is light; love your enemy; to gain your life you have to lose it; to be the leader you must be the servant.  It’s also easy to see why the Romans – who became “great” through domination – found Christianity intolerable.

A greater number of years ago there was a best-seller titled “Looking Out For Number One”.  I remember at the time I read the book it seemed like a reasonable thesis.  But what life since has taught me is what the world values is ephemeral, especially in regards to power.  No matter how powerful you are, it is taken away from you, sooner or later, suddenly or slowly.  As my wife and I journey through a period in our lives of illness and relative powerlessness, our parish and extended community has buoyed us with its love, prayers, and material support.  It is a foretaste of what Heaven is like.

GOD’S ANSWER: My Son shows mankind the way, how humble service makes one great.

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