Five Aspects of the Christian Ambition for Greatness, 26th Monday (II), September 26, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Monday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Memorial of SS. Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs
Memorial of Blessed Paul VI, Pope
September 26, 2016
Job 1:6-22, Ps 17, Lk 9:46-50


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • The Lord doesn’t seek to eliminate human ambition — he’s instilled within us a desire for greatness — but to purify it. Today we see five aspects of the ambition for greatness Jesus wants us to have:
  • First, it’s shown in embracing everyone, especially those who can’t reward us. This is what it means to receive a, because infants will not even thank us not to mention give us in return.
  • Second, Christian greatness includes others. Jesus tells John that those who are not against us are with us, that they can be working for him and his kingdom according to his whispers in conscience and the powers he himself gives them even if they’re not among our number. This is the reason why even those who aren’t physically baptized can be saved, since the Lord who created the Sacraments isn’t himself bound by them.
  • Third, Christian goodness helps us to see everything as a gift from the Lord and ourselves as stewards. We’re great not because of what we have, because everything is a gift from God. That’s what made Job unlike anyone on earth, as we see today. When his cattle, sheep, camels and children are taken from him, he responds, “The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!” It was the Lord’s prerogative to give and to take away, and Job never lost sight of his relationship with God through his love for the blessings God has given.
  • Fourth, Christian goodness gives without looking for remuneration. This is a related point to the first but different; we’re called to do more than receive, but to give, and SS. Cosmas and Damian whom the Church celebrates today were called the “non-mercenaries” because they gave their medical attention free of charge to all who asked at a time in which so many doctors would put their own remuneration over the patients’ good, extorting as much as they could, and often not helping the patients at all because of their relative ignorance. Cosmas’ and Damian’s goodness was renowned and it was an opportunity for them to explain why they were so generous, because of the generosity they received. We should all have a similar ambition to give and to serve out of love rather than for remuneration, even if we should happen to be remunerated.
  • Fifth, Christian goodness perseveres in union with the truth. Today we celebrate for the second time the feast of Blessed Paul VI (today was his birthday in 1897). More than all of his characteristics, what is most noteworthy to me is that he persevered in witness to the truth even when unpopular, even when he suffered for it. He was pope during a chaotic time and even though others sought to get him to pronounce in the name of the zeitgeist on issues like the pill, he remained faithful to the teaching of Christ and preserved through tradition. Each of us to be great must persevere through suffering united to God, as he did, as Job likewise shows us.
  • Christ who calls us to this greatness shows us by example. He himself embraced children as a tremendous gift from his Father. He was always defending and including and ultimately wants to embrace on his right all of those who care for him in others. He himself was always affixed to the Father’s will, even when he was taking away his bodily health. He gave as the Divine Physician without counting the cost. And he came in witness to the truth and continued to give witness through and beyond his crucifixion. As we prepare to receive him, may he help us find this greatness with, in and through him!


The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1 JB 1:6-22

One day, when the angels of God came to present themselves before the LORD,
Satan also came among them.
And the LORD said to Satan, “Whence do you come?”
Then Satan answered the LORD and said,
“From roaming the earth and patrolling it.”
And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job,
and that there is no one on earth like him,
blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?”
But Satan answered the LORD and said,
“Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?
Have you not surrounded him and his family
and all that he has with your protection?
You have blessed the work of his hands,
and his livestock are spread over the land.
But now put forth your hand and touch anything that he has,
and surely he will blaspheme you to your face.”
And the LORD said to Satan,
“Behold, all that he has is in your power;
only do not lay a hand upon his person.”
So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.And so one day, while his sons and his daughters
were eating and drinking wine
in the house of their eldest brother,
a messenger came to Job and said,
“The oxen were ploughing and the asses grazing beside them,
and the Sabeans carried them off in a raid.
They put the herdsmen to the sword,
and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, another came and said,
“Lightning has fallen from heaven
and struck the sheep and their shepherds and consumed them;
and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, another messenger came and said,
“The Chaldeans formed three columns,
seized the camels, carried them off,
and put those tending them to the sword,
and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, another came and said,
“Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine
in the house of their eldest brother,
when suddenly a great wind came across the desert
and smote the four corners of the house.
It fell upon the young people and they are dead;
and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Then Job began to tear his cloak and cut off his hair.
He cast himself prostrate upon the ground, and said,“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back again.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!”

In all this Job did not sin,
nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.

Responsorial Psalm PS 17:1BCD, 2-3, 6-7

R. (6) Incline your ear to me and hear my word.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R. Incline your ear to me and hear my word.
From you let my judgment come;
your eyes behold what is right.
Though you test my heart, searching it in the night,
though you try me with fire, you shall find no malice in me.
R. Incline your ear to me and hear my word.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Show your wondrous mercies,
O savior of those who flee
from their foes to refuge at your right hand.
R. Incline your ear to me and hear my word.

Alleluia MK 10:45

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Son of Man came to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 9:46-50

An argument arose among the disciples
about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child
and placed it by his side and said to them,
“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
For the one who is least among all of you
is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John said in reply,
“Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name
and we tried to prevent him
because he does not follow in our company.”
Jesus said to him,
“Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”