25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)
TO LEAD IS TO SERVE.
Today’s Sunday readings provide us an opportunity to reflect on the nature of AUTHORITY AS A SPIRIT OF SERVICE.
- In the 1st reading, the Book of Wisdom describes the sufferings of the just man who is chastised and persecuted for his upright behavior because:
“he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us … Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected (Wis 2:12, 17–20).”
- The just and righteous man is represented foremostly by Our Lord Jesus Christ who was condemned to an ignominious death on the Cross, the Messiah, Son of God who exercised His Divine Authority by giving up His Life on the Cross, serving man to free him from the bonds of sin and the devil.
- At the same time, the righteous man represents all the children of God who give a great service to God, to His Church and to their fellow Christians by giving witness to their steadfast faith on God amidst the persecution from others.
- In the Gospel (Mk 9:30–37), we see again how Jesus predicted his Passion, Death and Resurrection, cautioning his disciples to prepare themselves for these sublime and imminent events which essential for the salvation of humanity:
“The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” However, the disciples “did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.”
Instead, what was surprising and a bit amusing -to show us how the disciples Our Lord chose are men with their own defects-, was that after hearing the solemn prediction of Our Lord regarding the Paschal Mystery, the disciples began “discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.” Jesus took advantage of this childish bickering among the apostles to teach them an important lesson:
“Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, ‘IF ANYONE WISHES TO BE FIRST, HE SHALL BE THE LAST OF ALL AND THE SERVANT OF ALL.’ Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.’”
Dear friends, with these words, Our Lord wants to remind us that
AUTHORITY IS SERVICE. TO LEAD IS TO SERVE.
- ALL OF US, IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER EXERCISE AN AUTHORITY OVER OTHER PEOPLE: PRIESTS, PARENTS, ELDER SIBLINGS, TEACHERS, LEADERS OF NATIONS, GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES, POLITICIANS, COMMUNITY LEADERS… IN THE EXERCISE OF OUR AUTHORITY, WE MUST REMEMBER THAT OUR TASK IS TO SERVE AND NOT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OUR POSITION FOR PERSONAL GAIN, NOR FOR VANITY’S SAKE NOR FOR THE DESIRE TO SUBJUGATE the people around us. It is very important to remind ourselves of this important idea every now and then for the good of those people whom God has entrusted to us. If not, grave immoral consequences will necessarily arise in all levels of the society: family and marriage problems, cruelty, corruption, poverty, totalitarianism…to name a few.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ has “come to serve and not be served (Mk 10:45)” and this is the model all Christians are called to imitate: SERVE OTHERS ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ARE IN MOST NEED. This is the reason why Jesus, later in the Gospel, took and embraced a little child, who in turn represents all those who are in need: poor, sick, elderly, abandoned children, prisoners….
“Jesus is our model. Let us imitate him.
Let us imitate him by serving the Holy Church and all mankind.
Sanctity does not consist in great concerns. It consists in struggling to ensure that the flame of your supernatural life is never allowed to go out; it consists in letting yourself to be burned down to the last shred, serving God in the lowest place, or in the highest: wherever the Lord may call you.”
Forge, nn. 138 & 61.
Let us then ask God, through Our Lady, the handmaid of the Lord and St. Joseph, Foster father and Guardian of Jesus to help us forget ourselves and that we may always exercise the authority entrusted to us to serve God and the people around us, especially those who are in most need.
-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei. CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS.