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Association of the Miraculous Medal
Weekly Gospel Reflection

Besides her great privilege of being the Mother of God, Mary was also her Son’s first disciple. She is often called the Model, or Exemplar of the Church. Following her example, we walk with her through the Gospels as we reflect on her response to God in her life.

September 23, 2018 — Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 9:30-37
 Father Oscar Lukefahr, C.M.

During the Civil War, President Lincoln was awakened one night by a political opportunist. Reporting that the chief of customs had just died, he asked: “Mr. President, would it be all right if I took his place?” Lincoln rubbed the sleep from his eyes, stared at the man and replied: “Well, if it’s all right with the undertaker, it’s all right with me.”

This true story makes us laugh because we don’t like arrogance and insolent self-seeking vices addressed in today’s Gospel. Jesus faces crucifixion, but his apostles argue about who is number one! Jesus tells them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he must be the last of all and servant of all.”

It can be difficult to follow Jesus’ advice. Among children, arrogant bullies push others around. Among adults, there are snobbishness, ruthlessness in business, quarreling in marriage. Why? Perhaps it’s because advertisements glorify status and self-centeredness. It’s phoney, but people buy into it because of their own insecurity.

Jesus tells us that real virtue is found not in arrogance or in pushing others around, but in loving service. Such loving service is shown by spouses who are strong enough to listen, to forgive; by people who are secure enough to avoid useless arguments, to remain calm when someone cuts them off in traffic.

Seeking the first place may seem to get us what we want, but it’s more likely to put us in a coffin of misery. Jesus offers a better way: Those who want to be first must be servants of all, and must become like children. Being childlike opens us to the blessings that come from God our Father, through Mary our Mother. In her beautiful prayer, the Magnificat, she assures us that God, who looked on her, “his lowly servant,” raises up the lowly.

Read last week's reflection.