Jesus got the disciples together to settle things down. “… Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served – and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage”. (Mark 10: 43 – 45)
There are many symbols that reflect our society, some for better and others for worse. The professional athlete is one of those symbols that seems to endure generation after generation. Children still look up to them. Wheaties still put them on their cereal boxes. And all the sports channels give interview after interview. They become our heroes, to be emulated ad imitated.
What does it say, then, when athletes are found with steroids or illegal golf clubs? It tells us that we live in a society that condones winning not matter what the cost, the importance of being No. 1 over simply doing your best, that being guilty only happens when you get caught. And we shrug it off, saying that this is just the way things are.
It is no wonder that young and impressionable people have become so incredibly competitive and the rest of us so jaded that nothing surprises us anymore.
The gospel of Jesus stands as a strong counterpoint to the message that is being given. The gospel tells us we must put others first, put their needs ahead of our own, not worry about who is No. 1. It was a radical message when Jesus first spoke it, and it remains so today in our competitive, win-at-all-cost society.