September 23, 2012 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus did not come to Earth in order to be glorified. He came to suffer for our sake, to give of Himself even unto death, because we needed Him. It was a hard concept for the first disciples to grasp and it remains a hard concept for us to grasp as we not only strive to understand the depths of Jesus’ mission and ministry, but to follow in His footsteps as well.
In today’s gospel, Jesus explains that He must suffer and die. We heard this in last week’s gospel, as well. He predicts His passion and death, but the disciples, as was the case in last week’s gospel, do not understand. As Jesus explained that He would suffer and die, the disciples spend their time arguing about who is the greatest among them. Clearly, the impact of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, the climax of His mission here on Earth, is lost on them. So, the Lord explains further, telling them of their own need to participate in His mission — giving of themselves for the sake of another, all the while expecting nothing in return.
“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all” (gospel).
Life as a Christian disciple is not about earthly praise and glorification. The mark of Christian discipleship is loving, selfless service following the example Christ set for us.
Jesus tells us, “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” (gospel).
Children cannot repay us when we lovingly serve them. So, loving and caring for them is done in a selfless manner — seeking to gain nothing. And that is precisely how we are called to live our lives — not only serving children, per se, but serving others because we see Christ in them, because we see their need, simply because we love them as Christ taught us to love. Jesus came to Earth to give of Himself because the Father asked Him to. Fueled by love of the Father and an eagerness to do the Father’s will along with pure love for humanity, Jesus willingly took on the mission of the suffering servant. Likewise, we have been asked by the Lord to give of ourselves. For most of us, that self sacrifice will not take the form of brutal suffering and death like Christ’s did, but if we wholeheartedly give of ourselves, holding nothing back as we are called to do, it is sure to be a sacrificial gift. We give of our first fruits — our time, our talents, and our treasure — not when we have some leftover to give, but first and foremost, recognizing that we have been blessed abundantly. We give of ourselves, living solely for the Lord, to honor Him.
Ask anyone who has committed to live the stewardship way of life. It is a sacrifice. It is not easy. But it is what we are called to do. It is what we were created for, to follow Christ in loving service of all men, and so it is richly rewarding.
It may not seem rewarding at the time. Sometimes it just feels painful to our weak human natures, but think about Christ’s sacrifice. When He gave of Himself on the cross, He experienced severe pain, pain whose depth we cannot even begin to fathom, but that gift is everlastingly rewarding — offering us eternal life. In the same way, we give of ourselves for the glory of God and He blesses us tenfold. His blessings never cease. They are boundless. They are constant. And their impact on our lives is beyond measure.
So, we give of ourselves in return, thanking Him for all that He has done and all that He continues to do.