Apparently there are 7.4 billion people in the world, and we are the servants of all of them. It can be a bit overwhelming to think about. If we gave one penny to each person, we would need 70.4 million dollars. If we gave each person one second of our time, we would need to live 14,400 years. The temptation is to consider it impossible and to give up before getting started. If God had made us purely physical beings, it would be impossible. But because we are spiritual beings, a single work, for example a prayer, has the capacity of reaching all.
In today’s Gospel we hear that James and John were seeking their own glory. They wanted to sit on Christ’s left and right. Although that’s a good place to hope to be, Christ reminds them that the Father glorifies those who place themselves at the service of all. We cannot be interested only in our own salvation, our own glory. We must be concerned that all receive the gift of being close to him eternally. When speaking to the twelve of how they should exercise the authority he would give them, Christ describes how other rulers misuse their authority not for the good of all, but for the good of themselves or for a select few. Christ tells them, “It shall not be so among you.” They would exercise this authority differently than others, and the same message applies to how we live our lives. How others spend their lives, how others think and feel, “It shall not be so among us.” So how are we as Catholics different?
Firstly, others may not be about service to all people. They may only be concerned about themselves, their family and friends in their circle, or people who they consider to have some value. But we are different, when Christ says, we must be the servant of all, we as Catholics understand what “all” means. Others place limits on people they serve in the present. Do others consider babies in the womb as worthy of service, do they serve the good of those who are terminally ill? Others may even serve a wider group of people; they may be interested in the good of all presently living, and even of all future generations. But as Catholics we go even further, we serve the good of all people who have lived in the past as well. We pray for all souls in purgatory. Others place limits on who they serve, but Christ says, “It shall not be so among us.” The Catholic vision is universal; it’s a true “all.” It extends to all humanity, past, present, and future; to the unborn, to the terminally ill, and even to our enemies.
Secondly, we as Catholics know that to serve a person means to serve the whole human, the person in their totality. Others may only be concerned with the physical wellbeing of people, their access to food, health care, and education. “It shall not be so among us.” As Catholics we know that to be of service to all, means not only to be of service to physical needs, but to spiritual needs as well. God embraced our need for salvation, and his Son drank from the Cup of suffering so we might receive it. Because we know more is at stake, we willingly accept suffering, even martyrdom for the total wellbeing of humanity, body and soul.
Christ told the apostles to exercise their authority in a different way than non-believers, and we as Christians exercise our lives in a different way as well. We are called to reach every human person and the totality of their humanity with our service. Others may reject a life of service, or limit their service both to its width or its depth, but Christ shows us a better way. As Catholics we reach out to true meaning of Christ’s call to be servants of all, to be servants of all in all.
October is the month of the Rosary, and praying the Rosary is a great service to mankind. Through the Rosary we pray for the salvation of all, and we meditate on the mysteries of our faith, growing in our understanding of God’s service to man. In the year 1917, there were a series of Marian apparitions and messages given to three children in Fatima, Portugal. To the children, Mary called herself, “The Lady of the Rosary.” She encouraged the praying of the Rosary and the consecration of the Soviet Union to her heart. In 1984, on the anniversary of the first apparition, while one of the largest crowds ever were gathered in Fatima praying the Rosary, a large part of the Soviet’s naval capability was accidentally destroyed by themselves. Seven years later, on Christmas Day, the Soviet Union dissolved itself.
Mass is the first and greatest prayer of service that we can do. At Mass, Christ offers himself, and we offer ourselves in union with him for the good of all. But the Rosary, the Rosary is a prayer through we can do anywhere in the world and at any time. This month let us reflect whether we need to incorporate this more into our lives in order to be united more closely to Christ in service.