“Blessed is the servant who loves his brother as much when he is sick and useless as when he is well and can be of service to him. And blessed is he who loves his brother as well when he is afar off as when he is by his side, and who would say nothing behind his back he might not, in love, say before his face.” – St Francis of Assisi
Gospel Text: (MT 20:20-28)
The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her,
“What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
St. Francis of Assisi changed the Church and changed the world with one simple proposition – that the Gospel is meant to be lived; that the Gospel can be lived. And that we live the Gospel by being men and women of loving service to one another; loving service to those in need.
“Preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary use words.”
Eight hundred years later, a new Francis has arrived on the world stage, our Holy Father Pope Francis. I think he wants to propose to us again the teachings of St Francis – and if we follow where he wants to lead us – not in word, but in action – we will again change the Church and change the world.
So, the question(s) is this: are we willing to take off our outer garment? Are we willing to lay down our own Mantles? For us it may not be a Mantle of Privilege, it might instead be a Mantle of pride or jealousy, anger or selfishness, laziness or greed. Whatever our “Mantle” is, can we lay it down and replace it with the Apron of Service? Because when we take off our outer garments then all things are possible for us – in and through God. Someone said, “When we are young we think we can change the world by sheer force of will. We march for our causes, speak out to be heard, we protest and write letters. But, as we grow in spiritual maturity we may realize that the way to change the world is to put down our placards and pick up a towel and basin.”
My friends Jesus is real! Let us be filled once again with the Real and Abiding Presence of Christ here this very day and let us become his Real and Abiding Presence in our world. Let us become like Him, washers of feet.
“‘Do you realize what I have done for you?...I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (Jn.13:4-5, 12)