The main theme of this Sunday from the gospel of St. Mark 10:32-45 is that of greatness, not as we would normally think but rather in the light of the Christian faith. The gospel lesson recounts Jesus’ words to the disciples, as they were going to Jerusalem about His coming passion and about what true greatness is.
You see, the disciples were interested in greatness in a way familiar to most of us, this was expressed by James and John, who were fascinated by visions of glory, eager to make sure that they would have their places of honor next to the Messiah sitting on His throne of glory. This attitude brought about the indignation of the other disciples, maybe because they thought it an insult to the Lord or maybe yet, because they were jealous and had their own hopes of glory and honor; probably thinking why should James and John be above them!
Jesus’ heart and mind, however, were on his future suffering, passion, and death on the Cross, not on the glory and greatness which was paramount in the minds of His disciples. This gospel exemplifies the sharp contrast that existed between the Master (Jesus) and His disciples.
You see, true greatness can be achieved by looking upon every person as one’s brother or sister and by seeking to serve that person with selfless love. God provides us with innumerable opportunities, in our life, to serve Him by serving others, no matter who or what they are.
For example, let us examine the Saint whose memory we commemorate today, St. Mary of Egypt, whose life initially was that of a sinful person, a harlot, whom most would consider undeserving of our attention. Yet we know from her hagiography (life), that through her repentance and eventual dedication of her life to the Lord, that she has become one of the greatest saints of the Church. From a harlot to a Saint!
For forty years, thereafter, she devoted her life to that of monasticism in the desert, by her unceasing prayers and piety and constant search for peace, tranquility, and solitude with Jesus. This commemoration of her life comes, ” while the end of Lent is drawing near, so that idlers and sinners (us), may be awakened by repentance, having as an example this saint from Egypt to follow.
So as we commemorate this the 5th Sunday of Great Lent, let us also become aware of our own personal sinfulness and slothfulness and renew and awaken our own hearts to true greatness, repentance and virtue.
O Holy Mother Mary of Egypt Pray unto God for us!