When I was in middle school, there was an opportunity to go away for a week to the local Lutheran Church camp. It was one of my 1st experiences being away from home and educational in many ways for this small-town boy. One of the activities I remember from that week was playing “king of the hill”. This coed church camp had a swimming pond, and in the middle of the pond was a small, floating platform for diving. During free time, all the boys would swim out to the middle and do their best to stand on the platform while everyone else attempted to pull him down. There was a lot of testosterone pumping through us as we tried to show off for the girls who probably found better things to do than watch us.
Our society seems to reward people who stand out in the crowd and overshadow those around them. Our competitive natures and desire to train future “leaders” seem to encourage and propagate this behavior.
Fortunately, our readings today give us a different perspective. In the 1st reading, we hear about the leaders of the trading city of Tyre on today’s Lebanese coast. Ezekiel warns them of their impending destruction. The exploitation of their neighbors has not gone un-noticed. Their pride and arrogance have blinded them to the Divine source of all blessings and their need for God.
In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us of the challenges of wealth and the need to build our treasure in heaven, and not on this earth. As we reflect today on the desire to be first, instead of last, we may want to ask if there are areas in our life where we still like to play “king of the hill?” Does pride and insecurity tempt us to always have the last word or winning argument?
As we come together in the Eucharist today, let us ask God for the grace we need to be meek and humble at heart.
-Deacon Steve Whiteman