October 21, 2018
29th Sun Ord Time
Sun 10am & 4:30 pm
Isaiah 53:10-11; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45
Today’s readings are comforting but also challenging, which is what the overall Gospel message is: it comforts us, gives us peace and hope but also challenges us to what is not always easy, to what seems to be the total opposite of the way the world thinks.
There’s a cartoon movie playing in the theatres called “Smallfoot”. It’s about a Yeti community, which are legendary big, hairy creatures similar to the Abominable Snowman or Bigfoot. In the movie one Yeti claims he has seen evidence of the “small foot” (a human’s boot print) and they all freak out! The movie turn’s our Bigfoot legend upside down and is total opposite of our way of thinking. (It looks good. I want to see it)…But similarly the way this movie is opposite of our thinking in the same way the Gospel is opposite of the world’s thinking. The Gospel turns the world’s thinking upside down…Jesus says in the Gospel, “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant, whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” This is not what the world says at all! The world says if you want to be great you have power over everyone and they serve you. But Jesus says just the opposite. To be great in the eyes of God and in His Kingdom, His disciples must be the servants, just as Jesus who “did not come to be served but to serve.”
James and John didn’t get it! At least at first. Even after Jesus taught them 3 different times that He would have to suffer and die for the sake of others and that His disciples must do the same they still had the audacity to say to Him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you…Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” They wanted a place of honor and to be recognized as great. They didn’t get it! That is the world’s way of thinking not God’s. Jesus is saying if you really understand me and what I’m about, if you really want to be my disciple, if you really seek to be worthy of my name and want to be great in what really matters, you as my disciple, must see things differently. James and John didn’t get it. Do we get it?
To be an authentic disciple of Christ means to put ourselves in the humble role of servant to others, to intentionally seek the happiness and well-being of others regardless of the cost to ourselves. In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah it talks about the Suffering Servant (prophecy of the coming Christ) “giving His life as an offering”. As His disciples we too are to “offer” our lives at the service of others. The Gospel says that Jesus came to give His life as a “ransom” for many. The definition of ransom is something paid for the release of someone. As Christian disciples we are to give our lives as a “ransom” to set others free from their bondages and sin by showing them the servant Christ and the way to Christ by our service.
The distinguishing mark of a true Christian disciple, the most evident, outward sign of a disciple of Christ is the attitude of joyful service to others. But to be a servant like Christ takes humility. The definition of humility is “freedom from pride or arrogance”. It comes from the root word humus which means “from the ground.” But humility is not thinking of ourselves lower than low either, always walking around with our head bowed down, beating ourselves up. C.S Lewis said it best, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, its thinking of yourself less.” In other words, yes we are very valuable in the eyes of God, we are worth something but we are not to be puffed up with false pride and self-ego. By the way, the 3 letters of the word ego stands for “Edge-God-Out”.
So if humble service to others is an essential element of Christian discipleship. But in our daily lives what does it look like? It is joyful self-sacrifice for the good of the other in all situations. And in all situations it’s much easier to be a servant when we think of that other person as Christ. In the home within the family: the husband and wife serve each other as if they were serving Christ Himself. Little everyday things around the house without complaining. Going above and beyond without expecting anything in return. Rubbing the other’s back even though you are dead tired yourself. The kids & teens serve as if they are serving Christ Himself by doing chores with a smile not having to be asked 100 times to do it. Helping and serving their brothers & sisters without complaining about it or fighting with them. In our church family, offering your time and talents in a ministry or two with joy in your heart and a smile on your face. It could also be as simple as picking up a piece of trash inside or outside the church or helping someone in from the parking lot or welcoming a visitor or a new parishioner and showing them where things are. There are so many examples of service here at Resurrection. You know who you are and God knows who you are. We are all called to humble service in our lives: at home at work and school, in the marketplace and streets, and here within our parish community. When we serve others we serve Christ.
But again it’s not easy to be a servant is it?! Jesus knows it’s not easy. In our 2nd reading from Hebrews the writer tells us referring to Jesus, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who is similarly tested in every way, yet without sin.” In other words, Jesus, yes fully God but also fully human, knows how hard it is to serve the other. That’s why Hebrews tells us, “So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” Meaning, because Jesus knows how hard it is to be a servant we can go to Him, ask Him to give us grace to be able to do what He calls us to do and He will help us though His Spirit. Without His help it’s me first, what’s in it for me. With His help it is how can I serve and where can I serve. With Him in our heart we want to serve and to give.
In closing, the Gospel message comforts us, gives us peace and hope but also challenges us to what is not always easy, to what seems to be the total opposite of the way the world thinks. The Gospel turns the world’s way of thinking upside down. But it is the way to true joy, to fulfillment and to eternal life by living life as Christ the servant. Do we get it? The answer is in the way we live our lives. It’s either all about “me” or all about Christ in the other. Amen.