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Photo: Felix Carroll
Our Call to be Servants
Readings: Jer 18:18-20; Mt 20:17-28
"Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant." Mt 20:26
Have you ever been driving in the backcountry following friends in another car when you somehow find you've become separated from them? You think you're going in the right direction, then all of a sudden you see them passing you going the opposite way. Similarly, in our spiritual lives, we may think we're traveling on the right path and are following Jesus, but it turns out we're going in the opposite direction from Him.
The request of James and John highlights such a concern. In their case, as is so often the case in all of us, it is ego and self-concern that get them off track.
In the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes," Calvin tells Hobbes that people would be less self-centered if they focused more on others. So Calvin suggests that everyone should just focus attention on him as an alternative. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Competition for attention — and status — is prevalent in today's world, just as it was when Jesus preached.
Like James and John show, most people look for ways they can feel more special than others. Having power and status helps us to overcome the dread of feeling unimportant and weak. But Jesus summoned His followers to humble themselves — to serve others rather than seek dominion over
others. We are called to sacrifice all for His kingdom because honor ultimately belongs to God alone. That means that, like the first of His disciples, we must learn to give up the desire of being favored. Such a desire only indicates uncertainty and confusion about values.
Of course, Jesus understands the fear behind the request of James and John. He understands that dread could and should be converted into love and service for others. The greatest is the one who serves all, as Jesus demonstrates by dying on the Cross for the good of all.
Dear Lord, I offer myself this day to practice humility, charity, and love in Your name. May I always act in a manner that pleases You and honors Your call to be a loving servant to You and to my neighbors. Amen.
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Diary of St. Faustina