The Great Reversal

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)

Once again the Gospel presents us with that most persistent theme of the "great reversal." While each of the Gospels and each of the Gospel writers can be said to highlight a particular view of Jesus and his ministry, this particular theme permeates all four of the Gospels. It is, therefore, fairly certain that this was a particularly frequent concern and theme of Jesus' preaching. It is also exemplified in his own life, particularly in his passion and death.

Getting ahead in the world is one of the most persistent themes of literature and our media. Not a day goes by when we don't hear some "success" story. Yet these stories are so easily forgotten. Those that are burned into our memories are the stories of people whose success is embodied in their service of others. Right now a couple who won a share in the largest lotto pot in history is getting a great deal of press because they have given almost the entire $136 million to their local community to fund a new fire house, a new water treatment system, and scholarships for their young students. Oh yes, the media did tack on the fact that they purchased a new truck for themselves at the very end of the story.

Humility is not an easy virtue to practice. Nothing or no one gets our attention as much as people who like to make us out to be "bigger" and "better." The fact of the matter is that most of the encomiums that come our way are ephemeral at best. Far more important is the praise that we hope we will hear when we stand before the Lord: "Well done, good and faithful servant." (Matthew 25:21b)

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