“But First, Isn’t First?”By Jan Pepino, Fiat Ventures

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This summer, we got to witness the Summer Olympic Games of 2021 (well technically it was called 2020 for those of you who remember the logo). An event that only happens once every four years! (Okay, yes, I know it was 5 this time, just roll with it). Athletes from all over the world competed to win gold, silver, and bronze medals for their countries. Every competitor in this prestigious event trained for countless hours and pushed their bodies and minds to their limits. All in the hope of winning the ever-coveted gold medal and etching their names in history. New world records were set, and old ones were broken, but some of the most amazing moments to me were the times when athletes showed incredible sportsmanship.

In the high jump event, the two remaining athletes decided to share the gold instead of competing again after tying in first place. In men’s swimming, Caleb Dressel gave his gold medal to Brooks Curry, who helped his team qualify for the finals. One athlete in particular, Sydney McLaughlin, gave all the glory to God after winning gold medals and shattering previous world records. Despite the fierce competition and the hard work they put in, these athletes still put kindness and humility in front of their desire to be recognized for the gold medal.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we see the disciples with the same competitive spirit as these Olympians but showing a little less of that kind of sportsmanship, so to speak. After journeying with Jesus and following his footsteps, the disciples are seen discussing who among themselves was the greatest. Jesus then tells them that if they are aiming to be the best, they must put others before themselves and serve with humility. The disciples learned to serve others through Jesus’ example, but placed more of an emphasis on their own personal accomplishments and let their pride take control. They started to quantify the good they’ve done and made it into a competition that would glorify themselves instead of Jesus.

As I reflect on the disciples’ actions, I find myself guilty of putting myself on a pedestal for all the good I’ve done. Jesus’ words in this Gospel really allowed me to reevaluate my actions and think about how I can glorify God through serving others. Service is an easy way to feel good about ourselves, but this week, let’s challenge ourselves to see this in a different perspective… To help others and see these acts of service for what they should be, an extension of God’s hand reaching out to help those who are in need. Instead of counting how much service we do, let’s reflect on how much others can see God in us, through our actions.

Jesus has already won us the greatest prize of all, his love. With that in mind, let’s share this gift of love with everyone around us. Not so we can say we did something great, but so that those who don’t know of his love, might come to know and understand just how great of a God we have.

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