Readings for Wednesday March 10, 2010
First Reading: Daniel 4:1, 5-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 147
Gospel: Matthew 5:17-19
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:17-19)
In the world of sports, there is always the debate of who is the best athlete of all time? There are many cases, and in fact perhaps an easier conversation is who is the best athlete in relation to their specific sport? There is probably little doubt that Michael Jordan is one of the best basketball players to ever play the game. In the world of cycling, no one has accomplished more than Lance Armstrong. While obviously needing some work on character and role modeling, Micheal Phelps holds the most gold medals for a swimmer, certainly putting him in talks for the greatest in his sport. For a 49ers fan like me, Joe Montana will always be the greatest quarterback, although I must give some respect to Peyton Manning. Wayne Gretzky was such an amazing hockey player that he was even given the title of "the Great One." Of course no conversation of great athletes would be complete without mentioning Muhammad Ali, you didn't even have to ask who was the greatest ... he told you himself! The world has a tendency to want to brand people with greatness, and there is certainly nothing wrong with receiving recognition by using the gifts given to us by God, but it is important to make sure that we are not striving for worldly recognition.
Jesus tells us today that "whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." So while worldly titles are nice, they are not the ultimate fulfillment. The title of greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the title that we should all be striving for. And what does it take to be great by God's standards ... love which brings about obedience. You see if we are to be truly obedient, and not just following God's directions because we feel we have to or else, but rather following God's commandments because we love Him, now that is what makes a Christian great. When you truly love someone, you want to do what is pleasing to them, you want to strive to keep the relationship perfect ... even if that means sacrificing what you want for the sake of the other. The Lord has already shown that He loves us this much shouldn't we show this same type of love back?
If we want to be great in God's book, let us love Him with all our hearts, be obedient to His commandments, and pass on the faith to all those we can.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you bless us with and for all that you give. Lord thank you for all of our abilities, help us to use our gifts to glorify you in all that we do. Lord, you are so good and loving to us, help us to love you and others as we are called to. We pray for all of our priests, that they may be strengthened in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.