Sunday, September 19th 2021 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin
Last weekend we commemorated the twenty years since the attack on the United States by al-Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001. In watching the news commemorating the attack, the terrorists, the victims, and the first responders, I got a sense of the sheer evil of the terrorist attack and the perpetrators of this attack. Sadly, these perpetrators falsely believed that the death and destruction they were responsible for were in some way the will of their deity. Our readings this weekend bring to light the daily struggle we may experience between good and evil and how we can combat this struggle through gratitude.
In our Gospel, we see an example of how surrendering to our passions negatively affects us. Jesus was with His disciples when they began to argue amongst themselves as to who was the greatest in the group.
If we look at our own lives, we might find many instances where we fall into the same tendencies — we constantly compare ourselves to others, out of pride we feel the need to point out another’s faults or choose to fight back in an argument. We know we should act one way but choose another.
In the second reading from the Letter of James, the author instructs us, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exists, there is disorder and every foul practice.” Pride and arrogance can get the best of us where selfishness and envy control our hearts. A remedy for selfishness and pride is an “attitude of gratitude.”
When Jesus hears what the apostles are discussing, He has them focus on a child. “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me.” If we reflect on the moment someone receives a child, oftentimes their hearts are overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for this gift. There is no jealousy or anger, just thanksgiving, and appreciation.
The apostles are busy bickering about who was the best. Their vision was clouded, and they could not even stop and be grateful for the gift to be so close to our Savior and that they were chosen to be His closest followers.
When we are caught in the raging war of jealousy, fighting, and pride, and begin to become enslaved to our passions we are ultimately being ungrateful for what we have been given. We overlook the blessing God has given us and the gifts and talents He has entrusted to us.
As Jesus’ modern-day disciples, we recall that we have an infinitely loving God who cares deeply for us. With that in mind, we consider all that we are blessed with, and how we can use these blessings for the greater glory of God.