In the modern world, a man is thought to be successful in terms of his objective accomplishments. If he has acquired wealth, fame, power, or privilege, he is considered accomplished and worthy of emulation. Today it is the sports figure and the movie star who are held up as role models and not the teacher; it is the mogul and the tycoon who are lionized and not the nurse or policeman.
But in the Gospel of Christ, we are reminded that God’s judgments are quite different, and that the success or failure of each of us, as we stand before the dreaded judgment seat, will not be determined by the size of our bank account or the extent of our fame. Rather we shall be judged by the standard of whether in life we reached “to the very height of Christ’s full stature.” (Eph. 4:13). This sobering revelation should inspire us to be concerned about the kind of people we are; after all, we shall not be judged by the standard of the worst among us, but rather of the best. And if we call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ, we have an added incentive to live as we should.
Jesus exemplified through every moment of his life the way each of us should act—with great kindness, gentleness, and thoughtfulness. The Gospel witnesses his compassion to the sick; when the leper exclaimed that Jesus could make him well if he wanted to, Jesus answered “I do want to” and the man was made clean. (Mk. 1:40-42). It tells us of his gentleness toward the spiritually needy through his words to us. “Come to me all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28), and of his kindness toward children, “He took the children in his arms, placed his hands on each of them, and blessed them.” (Mk. 10:13-16). The Gospel speaks to each of Christ’s self-sacrifice to the lost “the Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve others and to give his life to redeem many people.” (Mk. 10:45).
This glorious example led St. Paul to exhort us. “O man of God … pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” (I Tim. 6:11). Measured against these standards, how successful have we been?