Prayer for March 2021 from our National Spiritual Advisor (The Rev. Jane Lamont)
Reflection from our Diocesan Spiritual Advisor (The Rev. Lee Weissel), Feb 2021
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
As we prepare to enter Lent for 2021, it is good to take stock of our journey with Jesus. Cursillo is a movement called to serve the church of God.
In the passage, Jesus asks his disciples an apparently indiscreet question, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’. It is a question he could ask each of us today: ‘What do you talk about everyday? What are your aspirations?. The Gospel tells us that the disciples did not answer because on the way that had been arguing who was the most important. They were ashamed to tell Jesus what they were talking about. Like the disciples then, today we too can can get in the same arguments: who is the most important?
Jesus does not press the question. He does not force them to tell him what they were talking about on the way. But the question lingers, not only in the minds of the disciples but also in their hearts.
Who is the most important? Jesus is straightforward in his reply: “Whoever wishes to be first – the most important – among you must be the last of all, and the servant of all”. Whoever wishes to be great must serve others, not be served by others.
This is the great paradox of Jesus. The disciples were arguing about who would have the highest place, who would be chosen for privileges – they were the disciples that were closest to Jesus, and they were arguing about that! Who would be above the common law, the general norm, in order to stand out in the quest for superiority over others. Who would climb the ladder the most quickly to take the jobs that would carry certain benefits? Jesus upsets their logic, their mind set, simply by telling them that life is lived authentically in a concrete commitment to our neighbor. That is by serving.
The call the serve involves something special, to which we must be attentive. Serving means caring for their vulnerability. Caring for the vulnerable of our families, our society, our people. Theirs are the suffering, fragile and downcast faces which Jesus tells us specifically to look at and which he asks us to love. With a love which takes shape in our actions and our decisions. With a love which finds expression in whatever tasks we are called to perform.
It is a people of flesh and blood, people with individual lives and stories, and with all their frailty, that Jesus asks us to protect and care for, and to serve. Being Christian entails promoting the dignity of our brothers and sisters, fighting for it, living for it. That is why Christians are constantly called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, before the concrete gaze of those who are most vulnerable. All of us are called by virtue of our Christian vocation to that service which truly serves and to help one another. All of us are asked, indeed urged by Jesus to care for one another out of love. Without looking to one side or the other to see what our neighbor is doing or not doing. Jesus says, “Whoever would be first among you must be last, and the servant of all.” That person will be first. Jesus does not say: if your neighbor wants to be first, let him be your servant! We have to be watchful to avoid judgmental looks and renew our belief in the transforming look that Jesus invites us.
This caring for others out of love is not about being servile. Rather it means putting the question to our brothers and sisters at the center. Service always looks to their faces, senses their closeness, and even, in some cases ‘suffers’ that closeness, and tries to help. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people.