Friends, today’s Gospel gives us the story of what greatness and littleness is for Jesus.
Jesus teaching his disciples of what true greatness looks like is not to be above others, but o be the least of all. It is not about ascending the social ladders of our society but rather to descend it. It is not about seeking the company of the powerful, but to welcome and care for those without status, such as a child that Jesus embraces and places before his disciples.
In any culture children are the vulnerable; they are dependent on others for their needs and survival. In ancient times, the children do not have status, no rights. And to these little ones Jesus identifies with.
Through out Jesus ministry he associates with Gentile women, bleeding women, raging demoniacs, tax collectors, and other notorious sinners. He even welcomes children and spends time with them. Yet he is condemned as an outlaw and blasphemer by the religious people of his time and who decided to eliminate him because he is dangerous.
We need to emphasize that Jesus did not die in order for God to be gracious and to forgive sins. Jesus dies because he declared forgiveness of sin. Jesus dies because he associates with the sinners and the impure of his time. Jesus dies because the religious establishment of his time cannot tolerate the radical grace of God that Jesus proclaims and lives.
My question is who are the least in your lives? Who do you sit with, eat with, journey with? Are we humble, lowly, and vulnerable as a child? Our Lord Jesus continues to remind and teach us that His greatness is also the path of life.
The Rev. Isaias Ginson is priest of The Episcopal Church. He is currently priest in charge of the Episcopal church of St. Margaret’s in Plainview, NY.