Yesterday’s readings spoke about how the popularity of David and the popularity of Jesus got them into trouble. It gained David the hatred of King Saul, and it gained Jesus so many followers that he could not move about freely. Today’s reading, staying with that, tells us how the desire to be great makes people foolish.
It was a great promotion for those twelve fishermen when Jesus chose them to be his Apostles. But, as the expression goes: it went to their heads. It found them talking heatedly as they followed Jesus through the countryside. And when Jesus asked them what they were discussing, they had to sheepishly admit that they were arguing about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus showed them the foolishness of that. He told them that whoever wished to be the greatest among them could only accomplish it by his becoming the least. He said, “He who exalts himself will be humbled. He who humbles himself will be exalted.
Then, Saul’s desire to be greater than David drove him insane. He came to waste all of his time and efforts on killing his rival David. David was hiding out among the wild goat crags when Saul, wanting to relieve himself, ducked into the mouth of the very cave where David was hiding farther back. That gave David a chance to kill his pursuer, but he kept hidden until Saul had gone out and climbed to the far side of the ravine.
When David called across that canyon to him, Saul answered with the bewildered voice of a man whom jealousy had driven out if his mind. He sweetly called out, “Is that your voice, my son, David?”
Greatness is just a delusion. As Gray informed us,. “The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”