Who is the greatest?
There are two types of people in this world. Some consider themselves the greatest, better than anyone else. Muhammad Ali falls into this category. Though he is no American poet laureate, millions have heard his poem “I am the greatest.”
I Am the Greatest! This is the legend of Cassius Clay
the most beautiful fighter in the world today.
He talks a great deal and brags indeedy
of a muscular punch that’s incredibly speedy.
The fistic world was dull and weary;
with a champ like Liston things had to be dreary.
Then someone with color, someone with dash,
brought the fight fans a running with cash
The brash young boxer is something to see
and the heavyweight championship is his destiny...
- Cassius Clay, 1963 I Am the Greatest!
He had no problem proclaiming to the whole world that he was the greatest boxer. Most people would be embarrassed to praise themselves that much and that openly. They fall into another pair of categories. Some people are authentically humble and consider others better than themselves. This is a healthy outlook on life, as long as it does not develop into self-loathing or a lack of self-esteem. Then, there are also those who have false humility. They pretend to esteem others but are really trying to sneak in self-praise whenever they think they can get away with it.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is trying to teach true humility. He sets forth an ideal that was surprising and counter cultural. When most people of his time were trying to appear stronger and smarter than they really were, he suggests a path of humility and love, and service of others. Jesus himself lived this way.
Jesus calls us to imitate the child. This is not a desire to have us ignorant or powerless. Rather, it is an invitation to place ourselves in a situation of trust. Let us learn to trust in our Heavenly Father and the goodness of his plans over our lives.