Ordinary 29 – True Greatness | # 243

Fr. Joel Homilies 2 Comments

Ordinary Time, 29th Sunday. Do you know what makes for true greatness? Let’s do a little exercise to see if you can spot true greatness.

It is time to elect a new world leader, and your vote counts. Here are the facts about the three leading candidates:

    • Candidate A: Associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologists. He’s had two mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.
    • Candidate B: He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whisky every evening.
    • Candidate C: He is a decorated war hero. He’s a vegetarian, doesn’t smoke, drinks an occasional beer and hasn’t had any extramarital affairs.

Which of these candidates would be your choice? Decide first, no peeking, then scroll down for the answer.

See the answer below.*

It’s not as easy as we think to spot true greatness. In the recent movie The Dark Knight Rises, Batman faces his arch-enemy Bane. Both men are smart, strong, have good fighting skills, and beat up a lot of people. How do we tell the good one from the evil one? The movie makes it clear:

  • The bad guy is willing to sacrifice others for his own benefit.
  • The good guy is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of others.

Today’s Gospel is all about true greatness. James and John want to be truly great so they ask for a special honor. Jesus questions them: “Can you drink the cup [suffer with me] and be baptized with my baptism [and even die]?” Even though they do not completely understand, they say yes. Good, says Jesus, but true greatness does not include a place of honor. True Greatness happens when we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others. Jesus, who sacrificed everything for all, is the truly greatest. Bring to the Lord whatever holds you back from serving others, because it also holds you back from being truly great.

*Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt, Candidate B is Winston Churchill, Candidate C is Adolph Hitler.

(21 Oct 2012)

Comments 2

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    I shared a rough outline of the three candidates with two college students, and who the candidates actually were. The two students simultaneously took the moral to be, “you can’t judge.”

  2. Avatar

    Everything we encounter in this life is a mixture of good and bad, but this does not mean that you cannot judge what you encounter, and in fact we are constantly having to judge good from bad and right from wrong.

    The appropriate conclusion is not “you can’t judge” but “you can’t judge well with scanty and skewed information”. The drinking habits of the candidates is the only area where we have information on all three: Candidate C might consult was astrologists and have affairs with unmarried women but since nothing is said we naturally assume his life is good in those areas.

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