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Tuesday, May 21, 2002

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James 4:1-10
Psalm 55
Mark 9:30-37

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rankled with rankings

"If anyone wishes to rank first, he must remain the last one of all." —Mark 9:35

Rankings! Ratings! Polls! Surveys! Standings! Our culture thrives on these measures. We constantly argue about who is most important (Mk 9:34). We have political approval polls, opinion polls, talk shows, sports standings, Most Valuable Players, Nielsen ratings of TV shows, Fortune 500 companies, and even TV shows which rank who is worthy to "survive" another week at the expense of eliminating someone else. However, our modern culture is not the first to be obsessed about ranking. The apostles on several occasions fell into this trap of rivalry. It's part of our fallen human nature (Jas 4:5). If we continue to live by the world's competitive standards, we will destroy ourselves or at least "vote each other off the island"! (see Gal 5:15) We need a new nature to escape this trap.

In our Baptism, Jesus gives us a new nature which brings us into His kingdom. Jesus' kingdom is not like that of this world; living under Jesus' lordship is the complete opposite (Jas 4:4). We are to "never act out of rivalry or conceit" (Phil 2:3). Jesus warns: "It cannot be that way with you" (Mt 20:26). Jesus molds diverse people into complementary parts (1 Cor 12:12ff), not competing ones. We are to be "like-minded" and not rivals (see 1 Cor 1:10). "Let all parties think humbly of others as superior to themselves" (Phil 2:3).

Prayer:  Father, "I have come to rate all as loss in the light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil 3:8). Give me the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16).

Promise:  "Cast your care upon the Lord, and He will support you; never will He permit the just man to be disturbed." —Ps 55:23

Praise:  For many years, Muriel has lovingly brought Jesus to prisoners through her involvement in a prison ministry.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by one of our editors.)

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Giles H. Pater, November 15, 2001

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, November 16, 2001