Those poor disciples! In last Sunday’s Gospel Jesus tells them that He is going to be executed, but will rise again. Peter protests, and Jesus soundly rebukes Peter and the other disciples as “Satan.” This Sunday, Jesus makes His second prediction of his death, but this time the disciples are silent because they don’t want to incur Jesus’ wrath again. So they hang back, quietly discussing who will be #1 once Jesus dies. Once again, Jesus has the last word: “If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.”
To be first is to be on top, to be in control, to have people doing what you want them to do. And here Jesus is saying true greatness is in being the servant of all. Judging by our behavior, many of us have difficulty accepting this. We value our titles and authority. If either is threatened, we run to the person above us in the pecking order to whine and complain (just as the apostles did when they saw someone else casting out demons).
In the family whom do we regard as first? Who is the one who serves the family? Parents? Children? Domestic help? Grandparents, aunts, or uncles? Of course, if the family pet happens to be a cat, there’s no doubt whatsoever: everyone exists solely to serve Tabby!!!
In the workplace whom do we regard as first? As the least? The boss? The supervisors? Those with the titles? Those who work efficiently and quietly in the background? The cleaning staff? Who is serving whom? Who is the greatest person in any workplace? How is the greatness judged? Who contributes most? These are questions that can only be answered on the basis of how individuals behave and relate to each other in the workplace.
In society, are people expected to serve me and provide me with all the things I want? Or am I expected to serve them? What should my attitude be to the people who are part of my everyday life – those with whom I am in direct contact and others, whom I do not meet but whose actions (or non-actions) affect my life? All these are good questions to ponder.
Be God’s smile for someone today!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.