You can see all the lectionary readings for Proper 20, Year B by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of Mark.
Jesus and his disciples are traveling through Galilee, but they are avoiding people because Jesus wants to teach the disciples privately. He tells them that the Son of Man will be handed over to the authorities and will be killed, but he will rise again. The disciples are confused, but afraid to ask more.
They arrive at a house and Jesus asks the others why he heard them arguing on the way. They didn’t want to answer, because they were arguing about which of them was the greatest. Oh brother, this is one of those points reading scripture when I just shake my head at the disciples being dumb.
Jesus knows what their nonsense was about. He tells them that whoever wants to be the greatest must make themselves the least and be a servant. Jesus loves to flip the script on his not-always-bright followers–and on us–we are not always bright either.
Then Jesus brings a small child in front of the followers. He tells them that anyone who accepts children in his name accepts him and anyone who accepts him accepts the one who sent him.
As in previous passages, the challenge is passed on to us–the paradox of the least being the greatest. Our command is to serve others and not to exalt ourselves.