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An **A**-For-Effort

The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest
Matthew 23:1-12

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Sermon Week Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 23:11


In one of his writings, Ralph Waldo Emerson asks, "How do you measure success?" In his answer, he lists the following traits:

To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a redeemed
ocial condition or a job well done.

Not many people I have known would find that formula offensive. After all, who would argue that the ability to appreciate beauty and to find the best in others and to do a good job and to help improve social conditions are not good measures of success? Yes, Emerson's formula for success is good - - as far as it goes. But, in today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus is telling us that it doesn't go far enough. Jesus' success formula is remarkable for its brevity. He says it all in a single sentence of just a dozen words:

The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest! (Matthew 23:11). Let's admit it: there are a great many people who find that Jesus' formula for success goes too far.

A high school student sent a greeting card to her grandmother who was in the hospital. In it she wrote, "Mother told me that you are in the hospital for tests. I hope you get an 'A'!" Jesus puts us, His followers, to the test, saying, "The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest." And His fondest hope is that we'll all get an "A".

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. It isn't your position that brings you joy, it's your disposition. In his book, "The Kingdom Within," John Stanford writes of his boyhood summers in an old New Hampshire farmhouse. The dwelling was over 150 years old and had never been modernized. Consequently, the family lived their summers without benefit of modern plumbing and electricity. The water supply came from an old well. The pure, cold water it supplied was a joy to drink on hot summer days. The well always ran faithfully, even in [...]

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