Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Juxtaposition of Greatness and Service: Mark 10:43-45

  • Mark 10:43-45 (GNT): Christian Service
    “If one wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one wants to be first, you must be the slave of all.”
    “The Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people” (Mark 10: 43-45).

    The opposite of authority and hierarchy, Jesus’ ministry is about servitude to the “least of these,” the poor, the leper, the tax collector, and the oppressed and marginalized. Jesus models humble service, for he literally and figuratively gives his life away to all in love. Christ explicitly teaches here and throughout the gospels that ministry is for all and in service to all; it is not to be used as a tool of power and control. While earlier in Mark 10, James, John, and the rest argue over power and prestige, Jesus reminds them of their true mission -- service to others.

    In the film The Letters, the director and screenwriter portray the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. There is a scene in the movie when Mother Teresa administers to a dying Hindu man. The man raises his head and asks, “Why are you doing this for me? I am Hindu, not Christian.” She states, “Because I love you. And when I look at you, I see Jesus Christ.” If you are not familiar with this movie, please watch it on Netflix.  It shows how we, as flawed humans susceptible to temptation and doubt, can become “a pencil in the hand of God” if we say “yes” to his will. Her life defined service, even to those rejected by their own families, left to die in the rotting gutters of the Calcutta streets.

    Service, then, is not found in the power-hungry structures of society. Christian mission and “greatness” are found, instead, in the streets administering to and serving the poor and homeless, providing food and shelter to the needy, clothing and feeding kids whose parents bought crack instead of food, and giving all we can to those who are bereft of everything.  Yes, we are slaves to others and give even when we think they don’t deserve it. After all, this models Jesus’ love that he gave on the cross for each one of us in our flawed humanity.

    Please join me in this prayer:
    Lord Jesus, I want to be a servant, to give myself away to those you place in front of me. Kindly grant me the grace to be a true servant in this world, so that when people see me, they see you.  Amen.

    May the peace and love of Christ be with you all.