Simple Service to Others
On the eve of Heather’s sacred ordination to the priesthood, a few thoughts about discipleship arising from the Gospel of Mark seem appropriate. And although I am thinking about Heather on this sacred weekend, I am also thinking about how this applies to myself and for all of us as we seek clarity and renewal of mission.
In our reading for this Sunday, the disciples were embarrassed when they realized that Jesus was listening to them arguing about which one of them was the greatest. Indeed, he had just been telling them that he would become the rejected one and that to follow him meant accepting a similar fate. Jesus then proceeded to tell his disciples that the greatest among them would, in fact, become the servant of all.
In our world we see many powerful and successful people depicted in our media as stars and idols. The powerful are seen with entourages and employees who serve them and manifest their every wish. To be honest, they have become our modern idols of worship. Even in the church we frequently view the greatest clergy as the ones with the biggest churches and the largest staffs. Little attention is paid to the hospital chaplain who holds the hands of the dying in countless hospitals. Yet our Lord reverses these secular and accepted values by telling us that, ultimately, success is as close at hand as reaching out to the nearest neighbor in need with love and compassion.
In short order we receive teachings to emulate Jesus’ self-denial, as way to a sacred identity and then we hear that simple service to others is the true measure of greatness. When I think about Priesthood, I think about the church choosing people who are committed to emulating Christ in the very way they live and value their inner lives. Priests are people who follow Christ and model his radical love, to a world that is only vaguely aware and interested in this mission. As Priests we are sowers of the seeds of the gospel. We cannot guarantee the success of our labors, but we can guarantee our commitment to serve and bear witness.
May we all hold Heather in our prayers as she accepts the mantle of priesthood. As Heather begins her new ministry as a Priest, let us pray that all of us can learn to see that her success and in fact, our success, is found in the humble service to others. Of course, we should also remember that this commitment is built on a foundation of prayer and worship that allows it to become real and sustainable.
May we all continually honor the mission of sowing the seeds of love and service, in word and deed and always value the teachings of Christ in the church and in the world..