‘Mirror, Mirror…’ MARK 9:30–37
A queen once gave birth to a little daughter who was indeed white as snow, red as blood and with hair black as ebony. However, the queen herself died in childbirth. Her husband, the king married another woman who was beautiful, but very proud and jealous of anyone who might rival her beauty. She had a magic mirror and often stood in front of it and asked, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in this realm is the fairest of them all?”
Despite her beauty, her status and her power, the queen proved to be very insecure and lacked the capacity for true happiness and fulfilment. There was no one to compare with her beauty, yet, she battled against herself daily seeking reassurance and affirmation that she was indeed the most beautiful (greatest) woman alive! Unfortunately, this self doubt and insecurity led the queen to a most cruel act, attempting to take the life of an innocent child!
It is this same inner turmoil and battle that our readings are pointing to today.
In our second reading, St James tells us “Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force”.
Like the queen, many of us fight with others and create wars because of the self doubt, insecurities and selfish desires that battle in our hearts. Our outer quest for power, control, recognition (an unending list) stems from our own insecurities, which trigger our jealousies and envy and build up hate and indifference in us towards others. We do whatever it takes to put down others so that we can feel that we are the best in the land.
Do you see this in your heart? Do you trample on others, or bring them down to soothe your ego?
“If anyone wishes to be first, he/she shall be last of all and servant of all.”
Now, in today’s Gospel, Jesus finds His disciples fighting among themselves about who was the greatest. Like the queen, the disciples were battling not only with each other, they were really battling with their own inner demons. This is why Jesus takes the time to teach them that the true path to greatness is found in humility, childlikeness and service.
Through humility and service, we are able to overcome our insecurities and self-doubt, and we come to really find our true self. As the Church reminds us, man “cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et Spes).
We find the greatness that we are searching for only when we place our lives at the service of others. This way of becoming great, my friends, is the true path to fulfilment that we are invited to take.
The love and acceptance, appreciation and recognition that we long for and even fight for comes from God. For us to receive this we need to become like little children as Jesus reminds us in the Gospel today.
Besides serving others, we are also invited to “change and become like little children”. Children have to depend on their parents for their well-being. This is the same dependence that we are called to in the spiritual life as well. Our hearts need to be like that of little children.
Let us ask God for the grace today to be open and dependent on God like little children; let us ask that instead of trying to grasp glory for ourselves like the queen, we would be humble and serve others, so that we might be truly great in God’s eyes.
Lord I thank you for your love for me and your call to greatness in Christ Jesus. Forgive me for my lust of power and control. Please grant me a servant’s heart, so that in humility my deepest desire will be to live for the glory of your name and the good of others. Amen!
The Gospel Meditations for September are by Fr Raymond Francis, Assistant Parish Priest at Sangre Grande/Toco/Matelot and Coryal.