Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church
An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.” John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
A few years ago a leading newspaper for the United Kingdom ran the following headline: “Millionaire Gives Away Fortune That Made Him Miserable.” Austrian millionaire Karl Rabeder chose to give away every penny of his £3 million fortune after realizing his riches were making him unhappy. His entire proceeds were destined to charities he set up in Central and Latin America. “I had the feeling I was working as a slave for things that I did not wish for or need. I have the feeling that there are a lot of people doing the same thing.”
The tipping point came while Karl Rabeder was on a three-week holiday with his wife to the Hawaiian islands. “It was the biggest shock in my life, when I realized how horrible, soulless and without feeling the five star lifestyle is,” he said. “In those three weeks, we spent all the money you could possibly spend. But in all that time, we had the feeling we hadn’t met a single real person – that we were all just actors. The staff played the role of being friendly and the guests played the role of being important and nobody was real.”
All the money went to microcredit charity, which offered small loans to Latin America and built development aid strategies to self-employed people in El Salvador, Honduras, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Chile.
Mr. Rabeder understands that it all comes down to one simple measurement – one simple assessment of our degree of greatness: How well have you served? In Richard Foster’s, book Celebration of Discipline, he puts together a brief comparison of the characteristics of service that is focused more upon ourselves and service that is focused more upon Christ. In paraphrased form, it becomes a self-help test worth taking.
Self-focused service is concerned with impressive gains. It enjoys serving when the service is titanic or growing in that direction. Christ-focused service doesn’t distinguish between small and large. It indiscriminately welcomes all opportunities to serve. Furthermore self-focused service requires external reward, appreciation, and applause.
Christ-focused service rests content in hiddenness. The divine nod of approval is sufficient. Also self-focused service is highly concerned about results. It becomes disillusioned when results fall below expectations. Christ-focused service is free of the need to calculate results; it delights only in service.
As we move through our day, let’s remember the advice of Mother Teresa, “It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.”
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Lord, help us to remember that true success is a sincere desire to serve. To be great is to serve in those quiet opportunities, when the need is great but the applauds and the recognition are a distant consequence. Bless our eyes that we see the need; bless our hearts that we feel the pain, and bless our minds to receive your Spirit who will direct our words and actions.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team