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Mark 9:34. But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.
The disciples are acting like siblings in the backseat on a long trip. He’s touching me. She’s on my side. How much longer? On the way to Capernaum the disciples are fighting about which of them is the greatest— and, I suspect, whom they think Jesus loves the most.
I have asked my parents which of their three daughters was the favorite. And I’ve fielded the same question from my children. Maybe it’s part of our nature to want to be loved best.
But Jesus asks us to squelch that impulse, to bury the desire to be the greatest by offering ourselves in service. Who has time to worry about family rank when you’re busy helping someone else? When you’ve spent an afternoon spooning turkey and corn onto the plates of the hungry, it seems petty to wonder if your parents love you more than your sister. When you comfort the grieving widow or visit a child in hospice, bickering in the backseat seems small and selfish.
I suspect Jesus was as frustrated as any parent with the disciples. His answer, though, is considerably better than pulling the car to the shoulder. It’s simple, really: If you want to be great, become the servant of all.
Today the Church remembers Tikhon, Patriarch of Russia, Confessor and Ecumenist, 1925.