Finding God on Gannon’s Campus
Football season often brings about a competitive attitude in the meekest of people. Heated battles cover many fields and floors as the busiest season in sports begins. The contest that is played on the field can drive professionals to fisticuffs.
One school captures bragging rights for an entire season while others have to eat crow pie after bragging. The colleges and universities that send the messages of “We are No. 1” display banners proudly as they march across fields and streets. What an accomplishment it is to be able to put on the championship jersey.
The contradictions and difficulties that we have in comprehending the message of Jesus in this week’s Gospel reduce the championship jersey to a dish cloth. When Jesus sees the dispute that ensues between the followers of the way, he steps in and asks a question: “What are you arguing about on the way?” I always found it interesting that the followers of Jesus never responded; Jesus filled in the blank and responded for them.
“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Wait a minute. Being great and important means that others do what I want and as I say. When the all-star player comes in the room people do as he or she wants.
A couple of weeks ago we heard in the Gospel not to pass consideration on someone because his garments are better than others or because he holds a higher office.
Why is it that when important people walk into a room we focus on them? Because we know that person is important and therefore must be flattered and pampered, in order to move ourselves up the social ladder.
This week Jesus is reminding us to be cautious of that attitude as we are competing for the “top dog” position. The words Jesus utters as he is responding to the question are an instruction. It is daunting in requirement, but that instruction has an action attached to it. Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me.”
The action of placing a child in their midst was to show them that a child and a woman of the time can be less important as the man. Also, the child is a symbol of purity and the purity of heart.
If you place children together they don’t ask each other, “Do you have the newest Lego set, or what occupation do your parents have?”
Children simply play and become friends. They don’t understand the hierarchy, so it doesn’t matter if the parents are unemployed, addicted to drugs or social outcasts. Children love and are accepting because they are pure in their intentions.
The adults teach them, “Billy, don’t play with Jimmy; his parents are no good.” We teach the children by our words and actions and we corrupt the purity that God breathed into them.
We want to be the best so we destroy anyone who stands in the way of that goal; we even betray loved ones because it means advancement.
When we start to look at that in regard to Gannon University we have to look at what is in front of us. Fraternities and sororities gear up for rush week and there will be a long process that will determine who becomes a brother or sister.
Fraternities and sororities are places where the people are supposed to build each other up, not only internally but also externally. Unfortunately, the attitude of “we are No. 1” can take over and the juvenile mentality can become the focus. There is nothing that the members will not do in order to accomplish their goal.
Yet the true message is that in order to be No. 1 we must be last and servant of all. The life lesson is humility and not arrogant pride. The goal of becoming No. 1 can lead one to a life of corruption and dishonesty. The misguided use becomes an abuse and people suffer.
We are living in a world where the success of life is determined by the value of the toys you have. But Jesus says it is determined by the success of service and preserving the purity of intention. Do not worry about the office of the person; value the person.
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