“They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all” (Mc 9, 33-35).
Jesus had announced for the second time his Passion and Resurrection and instead of seeking to understand the meaning of this announcement, the Twelve occupy their time quarreling over their personal ambitions and thus weaken the brotherhood which should exist between them.
“Are we truly humble, if we do not humble ourselves below our brothers? Jesus humbled himself right to serving his disciples, even to washing the feet of the Apostles. He did not come, he said, ‘to be served but to serve’” (De Brésillac, Retreat to missionaries, p. 132).
“The call to embrace and to integrate the virtue of humility as disciples of Christ, is to be ‘grounded on our conscious connectedness with all people, with the earth – our common home, and with God because we all share in an unbreakable interconnection of life given by God’. This mindset gives a deeper understanding of what Pope Francis says that the pastor should have the smell of the sheep. Thus “through humility we gain proper consciousness of our place in relation to God”. The reason why Jesus speaks to the apostles about the divine value-system, which totally reverses the common human criteria, because “the last becomes the first and the first becomes the last”, is purposely done to guard against the temptation of claiming privileges and therefore seeking favours from others.
As missionaries, we can have our various distractions for instance considering our intellectual capabilities, missionary endeavours, number of years in the priesthood, different positions of responsibility held in the SMA, etc, as evidence of an authentic missionary. Jesus invites us therefore to be ‘mindful, no matter the circumstances, of our common humanity that supersedes our differences in abilities or social positions’. At a couple of priestly ordinations, I always remind the ordained of this fundamental fact that as priests we are humbled because of the grandeur of sharing the unique priesthood of Christ. This is because called to the priesthood is never something we have attained as human ambition but rather it is a divine gift bestowed on us out of mercy; and that we ought to receive it with humility and constantly be thankful for as we consider our own human limitations.
At the Eucharistic celebration, I stand in awe and wonder of this great mystery which Christ realises through my human person.
Question: How often do we consider our unworthiness that Christ should, despite it, make of us instruments of his grace for faithful people and for all humanity?”
+ Dennis Agbenyadzi SMA
Bishop of Berberati (RCA)
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