Can Christians strive for greatness? Br. Sullivan McCormick, SJ, reflects on Jesus’ words about humility and what true greatness looks like. Based on the readings for Sunday, September 19, 2021.
Is it okay to strive for greatness as Christians?
Hi, I am Br. Sullivan McCormick and this is my One-Minute Reflection.
The drive to be great is a fundamental human drive. Martin Luther King Jr. referred to this drive as the “drum major instinct,” the desire to be out front and be recognized. The problem isn’t the desire, the problem is when that desire gets twisted and distorted. Jesus doesn’t say “don’t strive for greatness,” he instead says be great on my terms: be of service to others, embrace the least among us, the one society deems unworthy.
Take the example of Saint Ignatius. Here’s a man who refused to surrender at the battle of Pamplona, who wanted to outdo the saints before him, and make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He doesn’t stop striving for greatness after his conversion, but he now does so on God’s terms, for the greater glory of God, not the greater glory of Ignatius. So by all means, be great, but do so on God’s terms.