Less Than?

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Jesus and the Little Child by James Tissot, between 1886 and 1894. Online collection of the Brooklyn Museum. Public domain.

The argument of the disciples sounds familiar to us. Think of our places of work and service, our families and schools, and even our Church. Far too often, we become prey to a measure of greatness that is far different from that offered by Jesus. Our Western culture commonly gauges success on a basis of net worth, on win-loss records, on a higher number of likes or followers. We look for rising revenues and largest growth, paying close attention to the biggest donors. Our focus is on power or influence. 

The disciples were influenced by a culture much different from ours, and yet they measure greatness by similar standards. Jesus, seeing the intention of their hearts—and the intention of our hearts—offers a simpler and more challenging insight: “For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” 

Who does our society fail to recognize because we measure greatness based on financial wealth, power, or influence? Who have we personally considered “less than” because of the values we have adopted from our society? Luke reminds us to look carefully at the child whom Jesus places by his side. The message for us is clear. When it comes to greatness, we need to set aside our individual and cultural egos. We need to act with love and humility—to be the least among all. 

© Liturgical Press.

Gabriel Lara

Gabriel Lara is the economic justice organizer and director of training with the Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership (CSPL). A native of Guanajuato, Mexico, he lives in Chicago.

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