A Servant to All

Post Date: September 13, 2021
Author: Jeff Borski

A Reflection on the Reading for the Twenty-Fifth Weekend in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
Responsorial Psalm: 54:3-4, 5, 6, 8
Reading II: James 3:16-4:3
Gospel: Mark 9:30-37 

The readings for this twenty-fifth weekend highlight two primary points. The first point comes from the reading from the book of Wisdom; it is a continuation of the proclamation that one is to come, one that will be favored by God, who will change the face of the world. This one to come is the Son of God, and He will be tortured and killed but will rise again in three days.

But the Son of God is not embraced by the “wicked,” the people who do not like the fact that he sets himself against their lifestyle and their disregard of the laws, the commandments, and the laws of morality.

This first reading is a prologue to the crucifixion story of Jesus. It is a large part of the narrative of why Jesus is not found favorable by a large group of the society. We also must consider that if Jesus proclaims to be the Messiah, then the Romans would not find him favorable either. The Romans knew that the Jewish people hoped for a new Davidic king to reestablish a new kingdom. This claim of being the Messiah would be considered an act of treason against the Roman Empire, and the result would be a sentence of death by crucifixion.

Therefore, we see that there is going to be an uphill battle for Jesus to simply bring about a change of heart to all of those he has come to redeem. In fact, it will take an extraordinary event that will be almost unbelievable.

The second point is made with the letter from James in the second reading. Human desires, human ways of thinking, and acting are conflicting with the mission of the Son of God. Passions, desires to possess and covet bring about envy, war and killing. Only Wisdom from above is pure, full of mercy and good fruits, which brings about peace.
We see that the constant desire for more, they want for what we don’t have is always producing strife. Jesus calls us to give, to give without counting the cost. To be a servant, first and foremost, will produce for us a multitude of spiritual wealth.

These two points come together in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus sits with his disciples and once again teaches, explains that he will be handed over and suffer greatly, that he will indeed be killed, but will rise again after three days. This is Jesus’ ministry; it is precisely his purpose, to voluntarily die, to show us what selfless love looks like, to show us what being a servant of God looks like.

But then we are presented with the perplexing problem of Jesus’ closest disciples arguing with each other. Here we have jealousy and ambition rearing its ugly head. Conflict because of a desire to obtain and possess a title, to be called the greatest.

After more than two thousand years, these desires within the human race have not abated. We need not look far to see the competition between individuals for the title of being the best, to having the most, or to be the one in charge without any regard to the health or economic situations of others around them. This thinking can extend to many facets of our society today.

This is why Jesus puts the child in front of those arguing about who is the greatest. We may think the child represents goodness and innocents, but in reality, a child has no cultural status and would own nothing. This would be the best representation of Jesus the Messiah. To fully understand Jesus is to accept him in his poverty and lack of status, to accept him as a servant, the completely obedient servant of God.

“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.”

It is here that the two points of the readings collide and a decision on our part has to be made.

First, Jesus died and rose from the dead for us, signifying God’s abounding love for us. Jesus was the ultimate servant, a servant to all.
Second, through this remarkable event of mercy and love, He is asking us if we can lay aside all the wrong desires born of our humanity? Will we embrace the children, those who are considered as having no status, the poor, the homeless, the economically challenged, or the spiritually suffering?

In Jesus’ playbook, the route to becoming first realizes we have to put others before us; we must become the servant to all!

I ask as you this week to contemplate small ways that each of us can put others ahead of us, how we might be a servant to someone in need, physically or spiritually.

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