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Reflections

for Sunday, October 17, 2021

There is an expression in the world of sports that a particular player deserves to be called the GOAT. Now years ago, if an athlete was called a goat, it meant that his performance at a game was so poor that he bore much of the responsibility for the team losing. But that is not how the term goat is used now. To be a goat is to be the Greatest of All Time. Here in Tampa Bay, our football team has Tom Brady, a player who is commonly referred to as the GOAT. People may claim that Michael Jordan is the GOAT in professional basketball. Others might say that the title GOAT belongs to LeBron James.

Some athletes are far from being GOATS, but act as though they were. They have an entourage of people who are continually telling them how wonderful they are. They lord it over their teammates as though the others were second rate citizens in their world of wonderfulness.

But you don't have to go to sports to witness those who are so full of themselves that they act as though they are goats. James and John in today's gospel acted that way. They felt that they should sit at the right hand and left hand of the Lord when Jesus came into His Glory. They wanted to lord it over the other disciples. Or, at least they wanted it to be clear that they were much better than the others. Jesus told them that they were clueless. They didn't understand where greatness came from.

There are many people in all walks of life who strut around as legends in their own minds. They may be professionals, like lawyers or doctors or professors who look down on others, or they may be people who hold a position of respect in their families, like parents or grandparents, but do so in an arrogant way, as tyrants rather than as sources of family love. Perhaps we all do this at times. We may act as though we are great, but the truth is that those who think that they are GOATS, are, like James and John, clueless. They, we, don't understand from where greatness comes.

Jesus understood how to be great, though. He told James and John, and He tells us, that greatness comes through service. On the night of the Last Supper, before Jesus gave us His Body and Blood, He washed the feet of His disciples, and then gave them and us this mandate: what you have seen me do, you also must do. That was the path to greatness. That was the way that we could become GOATS.

Think about St. Teresa of Calcutta. She died in 1997, so most of us have been blessed to have been witnesses to some of her life. Everyone would admit that she was a great lady. But how did she become great? She became great by emptying herself to serve the poorest of the poor, first in Calcutta and then throughout the world.

Think about people you know that you can say with confidence that he or she is a great person. My guess is that person is someone who continually reaches out to other people. Someone is sick, he or she is there. Someone is having a bad day, he or she is there. Someone needs help with a difficult job, he or she doesn't even need to be asked. You see, truly great people have learned how to be great from He who is the One True Goat, Jesus Christ, the Greatest of All Time.

All of us have different gifts. We have a responsibility to develop our gifts in service to the Lord. What can I do best? What do you do best? Some people are capable of caring for the incarcerated with mercy, compassion and justice. Others have a great deal of empathy for the sick. Still others have a heart for the poor. Some are capable of teaching. Others are great parents not just to their own children but to those orphaned by the circumstances of their lives. We all have many talents. Our talents are given to us to serve others. We are called to develop these talents. We are called to greatness.

The Lord understands our failures, our limitations, our fears, the times that we lack confidence in ourselves to do His work. He sees this, but He also sees so much more. He sees our talent. He sees our love. He sees our determination to seek Him out in others and serve His Presence.

Some people think that because of situations in their past, they will never be good enough to bring Christ to others. Perhaps we all have those thoughts at time. We need to stop ourselves from that way of thinking. We have been called by Christ to be his disciples. We are Christians. We did not take Christianity on ourselves. We were given this Grace freely by the Lord. We are good enough. He makes us good enough.

It is not the size of a person's entourage that demonstrates that he or she is great. It is not the position of authority that a person holds that demonstrates his or her greatness. True greatness come from Jesus Christ. He calls us to be people of service. It is through service that every one of us is capable of becoming, in our own way, GOATS.

 
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Isaiah 53.10-11
Second Reading: Hebrews 4.14-16
Gospel: Mark 10.35-45

This material is used with permission of its author, Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino, Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL. Visit his website

   

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