“Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Before the reading we hear today at Mass, Jesus has three times warned his apostles about his suffering, death and resurrection that is to take place soon. The first time Jesus warned them, Peter said this just couldn’t happen. Then, after the second warning, the apostles argue over who is the most important.
Now, after the third warning, James and John, who were the only ones with Peter to witness the raising of the daughter of Jairus back to life, were the only two along with Peter to witness the Transfiguration. After all this, these two want to be placed ahead of all the others when Jesus comes into his Kingdom. My first response to them is, “How dense and selfish you are! Don’t you get it? Who are you to tell the Lord what to do?” Yet I know in my prayers I am always coming to Him with an agenda, and it is often my own plan for Him to choose to support. How far that is from surrendering to the Lord and His people as a servant! How unlike the Fiat of Mary, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to Your will.
Being a servant does not mean allowing people to walk all over you. Jesus was never afraid to stand up for himself and others. A policeman who didn’t stop bad guys wouldn’t be serving anyone. A priest who doesn’t live his vows and teach the entire Gospel is a neglectful shepherd. Parents who let their children do everything and do not teach them right from wrong are neglecting the rearing of their children. Teachers who let their students get by without doing homework or excuse their cheating on exams are poor servants as well as poor teachers.
Being a good servant does not always win popularity contests. Jesus knew he was making a lot of enemies by the work he was doing: teaching, healing, attacking evil spirits. He was ready to lay down His life for others even when people ignored Him, misunderstood Him, didn’t appreciate what He was doing for them, even hated Him.
Why did He do it? There is no other reason than the very best of all reasons, love. Sacrificial love. This is the love of God Himself who gave us a pure example at the Last Supper when He washed the feet of all, even protesting Peter. He explicitly told them, “I have given an example for you to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
So parents, every time you kneel down with family to pray the Rosary, even though you are tired, you are serving your family and God. Every time a father and mother go to work, they are serving the family. Every time adult children shop and cook the meal and wash the dishes they are serving the family. Every time you go to Mass on Sunday as a family you are serving the whole community and giving witness to them that this is crucial for your family life. Every time the father loves the mother he is giving the children the great service of blessing them and surrounding them with their sacred married love.
“The family that prays together stays together.” -Venerable Patrick Peyton, C.S.C.
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Copyright 2018 Fr. Willy Raymond, C.S.C.