Who’s the Greatest?
But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
A daily question in our society is “Who’s the greatest of them all?” The same question has these variations: Who’s the greatest athlete? the greatest celebrity? the most powerful leader? the richest person? We may even ask, “who is the worst of all?” Maybe a notorious gangster or traitor comes to mind.
The assumption is that superiority in certain categories like money, beauty, intelligence, physical strength, political power and influence make a person worthy of fame and adulation. We honor those who excel in the areas we consider important.
On a number of occasions, Jesus’ disciples showed that they competed among themselves for superior positions. Maybe that was in the back of their minds when they asked Him the question in today’s reading.
Jesus showed them that the categories which are generally considered important by society are not the same ones that are important in the kingdom of heaven. Superiority in those categories is therefore meaningless. A little child showing characteristic humility is held above the proud and haughty.
What a contrast! The little child and Pharaoh. The latter’s experience certainly demonstrates the destruction that comes to the proud, the hard-hearted, and the spiritually blind. A Pharaoh may impress the masses with his power and prestige, but, without a change of heart, he will not even enter the kingdom of heaven, much less be assigned a place of honor there.
Think about it
What categories of superiority do you value most? Beware of idolizing that which has no importance in the kingdom of heaven. Pray that God may grant you the humility of a child and deliver you from the foolish, temporal values of this world.