Friday, March 17, 2006

The Greatest among us

As we ponder the institution of the Eucharist at Lord's supper, the fifth luminous mystery, we see that the disciples to can use some illumination.

Imagine you announce to your closest friends that you will be dying in less than a day. How would you expect them to show your love for you? By listening to them argue about who was your best friend? And to think that I thought I had trouble keeping Bible Study discussions on track.

And yet, the Master that he is, Jesus uses this most petty and insensitive debate to lead us into the most profound mystery of the Christian faith.

The shortest answer to the debate, "who is the greatest among us?" is obvious: Jesus. But Jesus goes beyond their question and shows us what makes him so very great. Unlike any other ruler, He humbles himself before us and washes our feet, rather than asking us to humble ourselves before him. Furthermore, he instructs the twelve to serve others with this same humility - reminding them not to Lord their authority over others as the Gentiles do.

But if we are not to Lord our authority over others, what should we do? At this point Jesus brings the disciples back to the original point of his discussion. His upcoming death, the promise of the Holy Spirit, and instructions on what to do - and not so coincidentally he shows us by yet another example of his alternatives to lording authority over others: to die for another, to send aid, and to teach.

So rather than shut down their tangential and insulting line of discussion so as to return to the original point, Jesus somehow manages to answer their question and bring things back to the original point in one swell foop.

And as if humiliating himself to the level of a foot-washer wasn't enough to drive the point home, he then lowers himself to the level of a crust of bread and a cup of wine. Truly, he is the greatest among us.

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