True Greatness is Anchored in Humility and Service

In this week’s reading, Jesus explains the meaning of true greatness, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10: 43) – it is to be the servant of all.

Fr. Martin explained that true greatness lies not in seeking glory for oneself but rather in serving as Jesus did. To illustrate the point, Fr. Martin told the following story: a man fell into a pit and was struggling to get out. He shouted for help. Many passed by, sympathised with his state, and tried to help him but the pit was too deep. Finally, Jesus came and jumped right into the pit and provided his shoulder for the man to step on and get out of the pit.

The sons of Zebedee wanted glory in position but true greatness is anchored in the cross. Jesus came and gave all he had including his life as a sacrificial lamb. He humbled himself, came to serve and not to Lord over the people.

Still, real greatness is often hidden, humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It is not easy to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. We must have strong self-confidence combined with deep humility. Some of the greatest works of art and the most important works of peace were created by people who had no need for the limelight. They knew that what they were doing was their call, and they did it with great patience, perseverance, and love.

– Henri J. M. Nouwen

In the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, JRR Tolkien portrays Sam, a servant as the true hero and one of true greatness. Sam seems rather insignificant but his unwavering commitment to his master keeps him focused. He does not desire power nor glory for himself but every act was of love and humility. He was able to resist the temptation of the One Ring because his desire was to serve his Master (Frodo) and not to Lord over others. The One Ring represents evil and sin that can destroy a man’s soul. It provides great power for domination that men find difficult to resist. Sam a humble and faithful soul did not desire domination and was thus able to able to resist it.

As Pope Benedict said, “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness!” – the greatness that lies not in position, honour, wealth or power but rather one that is anchored in humility and service. – SR

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