What’s In It for Us?
What’s in it for us? Those words express the minds of the disciples of Jesus as he taught them again about his coming passion. They still did not get what discipleship entails. The preoccupation of their minds is how to attain power, privilege, and prestige rather than selfless service to the Kingdom. Who’s on first? Who is the greatest? Being successful and ahead in the secular sense is all they care about when Jesus was preparing them for his passion, a model for them as his followers. Jesus reminds them: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all” (Mk 9:35). Are we willing to be servants of all? Are we willing to be last in order to be first?
A child is presented to the disciples as a symbol of how to serve. The child in the Jewish society is a nobody, no social status or importance is accorded the child. Yet from the innocence and trust of the child, we learn lessons of how to be a selfless servant for the kingdom of God. Are we willing to be childlike? If we want to be leaders at service, it is clear that the making of a good servant is dependent on detachment from preoccupation with self so that we become available to God to use us in the service of others.
This is my goal as a priest as I celebrate my twenty-first anniversary of ordination to the priesthood of Christ on Thursday, September 23rd, the feast of Padre Pio, my spiritual mentor. Listening to Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all,” got me re-thinking how I am called to be a priest at the selfless service of the people of God. I am thankful to God for all his kindness, mercy and love in the past twenty-one years. I am filled with gratitude and joy.
I echo the words of the Psalmist, “Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; cry out to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with a song of praise, joyfully sing our psalms (95:1-2). I invite you to join me in celebrating my priestly anniversary at 6 pm Mass on Thursday and after as I “lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord (Psalm 116:13). Please, come thank God with me and pray with and for me to be a selfless servant of all.
In the service of the body of Christ,
Fr. Bernard, OP