October 21, 2018

Today’s gospel speaks about an interesting discourse among the disciples, ‘Who is going to be the greatest among them?’ I think all of us want to be great in life, some way or another. Today’s world especially is so full of competition and race for being bigger than the other. Jesus for His disciples has a different mantra in today’s gospel, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus disciples readily and willingly followed it. That is why all of them were martyred, for their faith and as foretold by Jesus Himself they all drank the cup of martyrdom for His sake. They suffered and died for Christ, the only way to attain salvation. It is to follow Him by taking up the cross. Yet for the question who is going to be great in His kingdom, He says, that it is left to God and to those for whom it is reserved. Many of us are so convinced and so foolish in judging others and condemning people to hell who do not follow the way we think is right and sending people to heaven who follow the way we think is right.

Many who followed this advice of becoming great are still following Christ by giving their life for faith in Christ. Millions have given life for the sake of faith and truth in Christ. In order to serve and bring peace, people have travelled thousands of miles from one corner of the world to the other in the name of Jesus. Due to the result of martyrdom and sacrifice of so many people, we have the gift of faith. Millions have lost their lives sacrificing their life and even today many are undergoing persecution. I strongly feel that our faith is a great gift to us at the cost of millions of lives sacrificed for faith.

When it comes to service and putting one’s needs before others the way Jesus wants us to gather treasure. I love this story. A king had an elephant, which went mad and went on a rampage. It started destroying everything. It uprooted trees, killed people and destroyed everything that came its way. The king came out to see what was going on and he saw the destruction and did not know how to stop it. He knew that His little one year old son was very fond of this elephant and so also the elephant liked his son, both would spend lots of time together. Then his son came out and the king simply picked up his little child and threw him before the elephant. The elephant seeing the little child, who was its favorite, under its legs stopped and came back to its senses.

That is what God has done to us by sending His son, coming to us, becoming human like us and sacrificing his life for us. Many who followed Him and understood His sacrifice did the same. We are privileged to have this greatest gift at the cost of sacrifices of millions. I am sure it will bear fruit in its time and have His kingdom of love and sacrifice rule. From the time of Jesus, John the Baptist and including the Holy Innocents, millions have given their life for faith and were ready to die.

Some time back in India a young doctor who was taking care of the leprosy patients in the villages of Orissa was burnt alive inside the Jeep with his two sons by a mob of people. His wife forgave those who set fire in an intentionally and well planned way sent the missionary and his two small children to be martyred for Christ. They were serving the poor villagers and treating them and specially those affected by leprosy. That very same year there was so much discussion on TV and media about conversions and faith. I was in a parish those days in Kanpur, not a great distance from the place where this missionary and his two sons were murdered in cold blood. It was Christmas and I was woken up by someone early in the morning wanting to pray in the church. Since then ‘till late night on Christmas day, there was a big crowd in the church. They did not know what to do and how to be in the church. Some brought candles and some had cakes. They did not know where to burn the candles or what to do with the cakes. I had never seen a crowd like that before that year nor after that year. The sacrifice of this missionary had resulted in people wondering what Christianity is. Why is it prompting someone to sacrifice their life for the poor? No sacrifice goes to waste when it is done for some good purpose. Let us pray for those people who are challenged for their faith. That the sacrifice of millions of people may help us to build our lives with values given by Christ. I am sure if putting other’s need before one’s own becomes the norm, there will no room for hunger and any kind of abuse on earth. May His Kingdom come.