From the Pastor's Desk
QUESTION OF THE WEEK:What can I do to be of service to all – in my family, my community, the world? Am I willing to suffer on the behalf of others?
Today’s Scripture readings describe leadership as the sacrificial service done to others and offer Jesus as the best example. They also explain the servant leadership of Jesus, pinpointing service and sacrifice as the criteria of greatness in Christ’s kingdom.
The first reading is a messianic prophecy taken from the Fourth Servant Song in the second part of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. It tells how the promised Messiah would save mankind by sacrificing himself as the atonement for our sins. Jesus did this sacrificial service of love for us as the Suffering Servant by offering his life on the cross as an offering for sin, interceding for us and taking our punishment on himself.
The second reading, from the letter to the Hebrews, tells us that, as a God-man and mediator-High Priest, Jesus offered a fitting sacrifice to God his Father by offering himself as ransom to liberate us from the slavery of sin. In the time of Jesus, ransom was the price paid to free someone from slavery. Sometimes the ransomer offered himself as a substitute for the slave, as Jesus did. The reading also speaks of a high priest who is able to sympathize with us in our weakness because he has been tested in every way, though sinless, and so we can “confidently” hope for God’s mercy.
Today’s gospel explains how Jesus accomplished his mission of saving mankind from the slavery of sin by becoming the “Suffering Servant.” Here, Jesus challenges his followers to become great by serving others with sacrificial agape love: “Whoever wishes to be great must be a servant." Jesus commands us to liberate others as he freed all of us, by rendering them loving and humble service.
1) We are challenged to give our lives in loving service to others. As Christians, we are all invited to serve others – and to serve with a smile! We are challenged to drink the cup of Jesus by laying down our lives in humble, sacrificial service for others, just as Jesus did. The best place to begin the process of service by “self-giving," is our own homes and workplaces. When parents sacrifice their time, talents, health and blessings for the welfare of others in the family, they are serving God. Service always involves suffering, because we can’t help another without some sacrifice on our part. We are rendering great service to others also when we present them and their needs before God daily in our prayers.
2) We are invited to servant leadership: In order to become an effective Christian community, we need lay leaders with the courage of Christian convictions to fight for social justice. We need spiritual leaders who can break open the word for us, lead us in our prayer, offer us on the altar, and draw us together as sacrament.
I discovered that Service is Joy": It may sound unbelievable, but it is true that Asia’s first Nobel Prize winner in Literature (1913), Rabindranath Tagore, was behind the three great national anthems of three nations, viz. Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. He was also the first non-westerner to win the Nobel Prize in literature. He did so in 1913. He wrote this short poem:
I slept and dreamt that life was Joy;
Then I awoke and realized… that life was Service.
And then I went to work -
and, lo and behold, I discovered that…Service is Joy.
Today’s gospel teaches us that true happiness comes from surrendering ourselves completely in humble service to God through Christ. And all we need is a servant’s heart, mind, eyes and touch. So, "How Do You Serve?"