The quest for greatness is the effort people make to be better and recognised. Today, the quest to be a man/woman of repute has become one of the daily desires of man.
Everyone wants to appear as great, powerful, super-intelligent, distinguished and superior among others. Today, many people can go to any length to achieve this.
We find the quest for greatness in every aspect of our human life and existence. So, in today’s gospel of Matthew 23:1-12, Jesus distinguishes between the earthly way of showing signs of greatness and what it means to be truly great.
The Pharisaic Way.
In the gospel, Jesus accuses the scribes and the Pharisees of doing everything only to attract attention. What they say is not what they do. They love to seek praises and recognition. Therefore, to appear great, they appear in long garments and wide phylacteries. Everything they do is just like that of a hypocrite.
Hypocrites live a life of pretense. In the places they are in charge, they only pretend to work, but deep inside their hearts, they have another hidden agenda.
Some people in political offices show and pretend they are working to help the people while actually, they are not. Among Christians, this is when some people pretend to be holy, prayer warriors etc., but what they show is not truly who they are. It is when what we do is only for appraisal and to have recognition.
2. Secondly, Jesus also accuses the Pharisees of seeking only places of honour in synagogues and banquets. They love to appear in public places and market squares to be hailed and praised by the people. They love the name rabbi so that people will respect and bow down to them.
This is why Jesus tells His disciples not to call anyone rabbi, father or master on earth. Hence, this does not mean that we do not respect our earthly and spiritual fathers, but those in charge have to be cautious of pride.
He reminded His disciples that they are all brothers and should treat each other as a brother and not as superior. Jesus warns against the attitude of showing off because of the positions we have or occupy.
This is when we do our work only to seek appraisal and self-glory. In the quest to appear great, and important, those in charge do everything within their beck and call to seek personal glory.
Therefore, when the attitude of seeking personal glory becomes the reason we do what we do rather than the salvation of souls or service to God, our life hence becomes hypocritical and pharisaic. Such service never pleases God.
The Earthly Way of Seeking for Greatness.
The earthly way of showing signs of greatness is when we try to prove to people that we are the people in control. It is when we seek respect at all cost.
In this quest for greatness, we seek praises and want people to worship us. In this, whatever we do is only to bring every honour to ourselves. Today, many misuse the authority and power given to them and forgets that every earthly authority has an expiring date.
For Jesus, this kind of mentality is earthly and like that of the Pharisees.
Jesus says in the gospel of today, “Let the greatest among you be the servant of all”. It may sound somehow, but this is true.
The True way to Be Great.
The secret of greatness is to serve the people with whatever God has given you. Jesus says in the gospel that whoever wishes to be great must be willing to serve. So, the quest for greatness is not the effort to appear recognized but a heart that is willing to serve God and man.
We can share our time, our talents, our energies in serving others in the Body of Christ. So, If you have anything God has given you, use it and serve others in a way pleasing to God and not for sordid gain or honour.
Hence, what will make us great and blessed by God are those good things that we do. Let us use our positions, talents, gifts, authority, power, wealth etc., as ways to serve God through others and not as a way to intimidate people. What we have, where we are, and whatever gift God gives to us is to serve Him. This is the true quest for greatness. Let us strive to be great in God’s presence and not in the sight of man.
May God help us to serve Him willingly, and May He continue to direct us in whatever we do. Amen.