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Who is the greatest?

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. Mark 9. 30 - 41

A wise woman advised a community in disarray on how they could reconcile their differences and be Beloved Community once again. To help, she recommended a book called What were you arguing about along the way? :Gospel Reflections for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Holy Week and Easter. In the reflection for Lent 5 in this book, Pádrag Ó Tuama explains a community's disarray as "a great chasm, a distance, a present of absence." Even this far into the gospel, we see the "presence of absence" between the disciples.

In the gospel reading for today, we hear that very question as Jesus asks it of his disciples. They freeze; they know he knows. They were arguing about who was the greatest.

We do not have to look very far to see this same argument at the root of conflict all around churches, in dioceses, in cities, states and countries. Who is right, who is the best, the strongest, the most mighty? Once again, we find ourselves in good company when we ask this question, because even after years with the Prince of Peace, the disciples still don't get it.

Where can I turn to hear the call to Love louder than the call to be the greatest? What can I do to share the Great Presence of Love in places it is absent? God Knows. Listen and be still.


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