30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise." 32 But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him. 33 And they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you discussing on the way?" 34 But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, "If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all." 36 And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."
There two kinds of teaching. One is by words and the other is by deeds. Jesus uses these two systematically that the disciples were afraid of clarifying these things with Jesus. The cause of this fear though apparently not very clear, becomes crystal clear when we understand the subject which was preoccupying them: who is greatest among them?
For our application I would like to propose you all, first to look at the qualities to be a good leader. Jesus is teaching each and every aspiring leader to learn to serve the people. He himself will do the same when he washed the feet of his disciples. None of them understood the meaning of this gesture, but certainly understood the meaning, after the resurrection.
The second approach is the way we approach each and every one we meet in our daily life. Do we understand that these people are sent by the Lord to help us, to teach us or simply to be with us? Jesus is teaching us that if we accord them the same welcome that we reserve for the Lord, we will see the wonder work of the Lord in our daily life. If we reject them, because they did something unpleasing to us, we may risk of rejecting even God. The gospel says that Jesus was gentile even with the devil, because He was filled with the goodness. Are we filled with the goodness, particularly with people who are not gentile with us?
Daily Quote from the early church fathers:
Downward roots enable upward growth, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"Observe a tree, how it first tends downwards, that it may then shoot forth upwards. It fastens its root low in the ground, that it may send forth its top towards heaven. Is it not from humility that it endeavors to rise? But without humility it will not attain to higher things (Proverbs 18:12). You are wanting to grow up into the air without a root. Such is not growth, but a collapse." (excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, SERMON 38.2)