Sunday, September 23, 2012 by Food for Thought
Psalm: 54:3-4, 5, 6 And 8
SecondReading: Jas 3:16-4:3
Gospel: Mk 9:30-37
In today’s Gospel, the teaching of Jesus gives us a truer view of reality. The event took place on the way to Capernaum. The Apostles were heatedly arguing as to who was the greatest, the most important.
Recall too, when James and John requested Jesus that they be placed in the positions of honor, one to the left and the other to the right of Jesus in the kingdom. The others were angered at the request. And Jesus admonished them, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones made their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be the first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
Today’s liturgy reminds us of what Christian leadership means, and our call to service.
Our Guide and Model is Jesus. He not only comes as one who serves, but he was seen as the Suffering Servant of Yahweh of whom Isaiah the prophet speaks: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”
And St. Paulwrites to the Christians in Philippi: “… Though he was in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbledhimself, becoming obedient to death, Even death on a cross.”
What did service mean for this servant? Obedience…humiliation…death.
How does the servant Jesus touch our service? Intimately. For a disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. Christian service is Christ’s service.
And so it involves in the first place – obedience. In essence, to be obedient means to be open. Open to what God might ask of you, might ask of you now – a God who calls in unexpected ways, to unexpected service. The God, who calls countless Saints to heroic service, the God, who
calls millions of nameless Christians to lose their life in order to save it, to give their lives as a ransom, a redemption for many. This unpredictable God even calls some strange characters to become Jesuits.
You will hardly be a servant of Christ if you are not open, if your tomorrows are so programmed that there is no room for the unexpected. No, to be Christ’s servant is to be as he was: “Not my will but thine be done.” Only in this way will you be open to the men and women who need the gifts God has given you, need your hands or your heart, your wisdom or your strength, your love and your compassion.
Second, humiliation. The primary way Christ humbled himself was in emptying himself. He put off his right to be God, and put himself in our condition, became like us. So, don’t wait for others to humiliate you. Christian life is a constant self-emptying, a putting off of yesterday, to join the human race of today. Like Jesus you must be increasingly aware of your solidarity with every man and every woman. In this way only can you be the servant of all.
Third, death. Not just the dying at the end of our earthly existence. Here we mean the daily dying to yourself that you cannot escape in Christian living. It is the dying that comes from openness to God and self-emptying. To die to yourself is to live to God and to others.
Let’s conclude by listening prayerfully to the words of a great Christian of modern times, Albert Schweitzer, who turned his back on the concert halls of Europe to become a missionary doctor to the poor inAfrica. Schweitzer said:
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know; the only ones among you who will really be happy are those who sought and found how to serve.”