Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19th Mk. 3: 1-6 “Then he said to the Pharisees, ‘Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?’ But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out and his hand was restored.”
How willing are we to see a need and do what we can meet that need? Today, Fr. Ed gives us a meditation for self-examination and reflection.
TO SERVE IS TO REIGN; TO REIGN IS TO SERVE by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
We are building upon the solid structure of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Principle and Foundation: We were created to praise God, to reverence God, and to serve God, and by this means to save our soul. Jesus makes it very clear in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to Him! In other words, Principle and Foundation challenges us to go out of our comfort zone, to leave our security blanket behind, to step out of the boat into the cold water at the Lord’s command so that we can truly serve! May Mary, the humble servant of the Lord, assist us in our true vocation—the vocation that leads to heaven—the vocation of authentic service!
BIBLICAL REFERENCES ON THE VOCATIONAL CALL TO SERVE.
1. SATAN—THE ANTITHESIS OF SERVICE. It must be said that Satan/Lucifer raised his voice in a clarion call of rebellion against the will of Almighty God with the resounding NO to obeying God—NON SERVIAM! I will not serve God. From which a battle ensued against the angels who due to their own free-will and determination decided that they would not serve God, obey God, or submit to His holy will. God marshalled forth Saint Michael the Archangel, the Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, whose name means who is like unto God. Those rebellious angels, transformed into hideous and horrendous devils, were expelled from heaven and cast into the fiery pit of hell. (Read Rev. 12 and Isaiah 14—the Fall of the Angels.) In sum, all of the tragedies started, and still start when there is a failure to serve God, a failure to obey God, a failure to submit one’s will to the will of our Lord God, our Father and Creator! Sometimes, due to concupiscence and the effects of Original Sin, we battle within our own divided heart to submit our will in obedience and service to our Heavenly Father.
2. OUR LADY’S YES TO GOD AND SERVICE. There could not be a more marked and significant contrast than the NON SERVIAM of Lucifer/Satan and the YES of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As she listens to the invitation of the Archangel Gabriel to obey God, to submit her will to the will of God and to serve God, Mary gives her total consent to the will of the Heavenly Father and becomes, among her many beautiful titles, the Humble Servant of the Lord. Mary’s Yes to God to be His servant in all times and places radically transformed the world. Mary said to God through the intermediation of the Archangel Gabriel: “Behold, I am the handmaid (the servant) of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy will.” (Lk 1:38) As a result of Mary’s yes, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn 1:14) It is incumbent upon us, in imitation of Mary and her powerful intercession, to give our Yes to God in service; if this is done, we are truly living out Principle and Foundation in our lives in the realm of the universal call to service! May the example and prayers of Mary come to our aid!
2. SERVING IN TWO COMPLIMENTARY WAYS: MARTHA & MARY… (Lk 10:38-42) At times Jesus would stop in Bethany to visit three of his good friends, two sisters and their brother: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Jesus enjoyed their friendship immensely. On one occasion Jesus was in their home in Bethany, a town close to the city of Jerusalem, and Mary and Martha were present to Jesus but in two different ways. Martha was busy with the details of hospitality; we can imagine her cleaning, preparing the meal, the table, etc. Mary was simply sitting at the feet of Jesus. What was she doing? Listening to the words of Jesus, talking to Him, gazing at Jesus and simply loving the Lord as her Best-Friend. Tense, nervous and somewhat frustrated, Martha tells Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus comes to the defense of Mary with these words: “Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things; Mary for her part has chosen the only thing necessary and she will not be deprived of it.” (Lk 10:41-42)
With respect to our call to serve in our consideration of Principle and Foundation, this passage with Mary and Martha teaches us a very important lesson. Like Martha, we are called to serve Jesus and to serve others, very true!!! However, we should be very careful not to fall into the modern heresy of Activism, or as Pope Saint John Paul II called it Horizontalism, or as Pope Leo XIII termed it Americanism, or if you like, the danger of being transformed into the so called Workaholic! We must serve our brothers and sisters. However, we should never place serving them over giving God our first-fruits, giving God our best, giving God our all in this sense. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and then, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lk 10:27) In sum, while we are definitely called to serve our brothers and sisters, we are always to put God in the very center of our lives. Remember, as creatures of God we are first called to praise God, then comes our attitude and application of loving service!
3. MT 25: 31-46 OUR FINAL JUDGMENT—ON LOVE & SERVICE. HOW WILL YOU FARE??? Once again going deeper into the topic of service, we visit and meditate upon the last Parable that Jesus gives us in the Gospel of St. Matthew: “The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, also referred to as the “Last Judgment”. The Shepherd will separate the goats from the sheep, the goats on the left and the sheep on the right, the damned and the saved. Our final judgment and eternal destination will depend on our love for God manifested by the love that we show towards our brothers and sisters in need. Jesus could not speak with greater clarity: “Whatever you did for the least of these, that you did for me.” Examine your Principle and Foundation and the key term in this meditation SERVICE related to the way you are living out the classical Corporal Works of Mercy (one through six only). How do you fare? For Jesus, love and service are almost interchangeable! Examine your life!
1) “I was hungry and you gave me to eat…” Have you fed the hungry at home or outside your home or anywhere where there has been an opportunity? Saint Mother Teresa, Saint Vincent de Paul, Saint Katherine Drexel, Saint Alberto Hurtado, Saint John Bosco, Saint Joseph Cottolengo and countless other saints saw Jesus in the hungry. To live out Principle and Foundation on Service how can you feed the hungry?
2) “I was thirsty and you gave me to drink…” From the cross, Jesus cried out: “I thirst!” At the well Jesus asked the Samaritan woman: “Give me to drink!” In the Parable of Dives and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31), the rich man Dives failed to give the poor man Lazarus food and drink, and consequently suffered the loss of his soul. Inscribed above the altars on the walls of the sisters of Mother Teresa, The Missionaries of Charity, are the words that Jesus uttered from the cross I THIRST! This Thirst can also be for love and attention. Mother Teresa saw and treated the whole person. How can you live out Principle and Foundation and Service by slaking the thirst of those around you?
3) “I was naked and you clothed me…” Naked can be interpreted as lacking or in need of something. Many lack dignity, respect, learning and education, doctrine and catechism, knowledge of the faith. They are the lonely, the neglected, the forgotten, and those who literally lack proper food, clothing, housing, and medical care. What is your response to the cry of Jesus in the poor of the world? Remember that the conversion of Saint Martin of Tours was triggered by seeing a Roman soldier cutting in half and sharing his cape with a poor, half-naked, shivering man lying on the cold, hard ground! Pray over this: in what way can you alleviate the plight of the many naked of the world? This too is living out Principle and Foundation and our vocation or call to Service!
4) “I was a foreigner and you welcomed me…” Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph were foreigners; they were exiled and immigrants. Many of us are immigrants or come from parents or relatives who were immigrants. Remember the Golden Rule and the call to live out Principle and Foundation in Service—“In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Mt 7:12) Jesus is present in these people: the immigrant, the ostracized, the insulted, the marginalized, the misunderstood, the deaf and the mute as far as society is concerned for they have no voice. Remember the words of Jesus, our Lord, God and Savior: “The Son of man has not come to be served, but to SERVE and to give his life in ransom for many.” (Mt 20:28) We will be judged on the way we treat and serve others in imitation of the Lord Jesus, our model.
5) “I was sick and you visited me.” We all know from personal experience how difficult it truly is to suffer. We all know from experience how challenging and hard it is to be sick. Many of us know how hard it is to spend time, days or maybe weeks in a hospital bed. But at the same time, we all know how consoling, comforting, encouraging, and supportive it is when God places a Good Samaritan in our path to help us in our sickness. A kind word, a warm smile, an extended hand for a handshake or a warm hug, a fervent prayer—all of these are gestures that can lift us from the valley of tears and darkness to the mountain-peak of hope. By visiting the sick, caring for the sick, you are living out Principle and Foundation in the realm of Service! “To serve is to reign and to reign is to serve.”
6) “I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen on one occasion made a visit to a Prison. He had the opportunity to talk to close to 1000 inmates. He made this startling comment: “We are all prisoners in one way or another. The only difference between you prisoners and me is that you got caught and I did not!” What the saintly Archbishop was really saying was the fact that all of us are sinners, all of us are at times prisoners of our own moral slaveries. The fact that we are not incarcerated in some County Jail or prison is the grace of God. Saint Philip Neri, seeing a man lying in the gutters of Rome commented: “There go I save the grace of God.” Saint Therese, the Little Flower, commented with great humility: “The only reason why I did not commit the most heinous of crimes was because God cleared the path for me.” She went on to say that we are all capable of the most heinous of crimes if God’s grace did not sustain us, support us and protect us!
Let us take a step back and look at our life, our social milieu, those people that God placed in our path—those who helped us, possibly some who led us astray, and perhaps some we led astray. Let us give thanks to God for His graces that protected us and beg His forgiveness where we failed Him and others. Let us beg for the grace now to recognize those who are really in PRISON… those who are a slave to some vice: drinking, porn, drugs, gambling and casinos, compulsive buying or eating. These are the modern prisoners; they are prisoners and slaves of their own passions, of their own sins. With respect to Principle and Foundation and once again Service, what can you do to help these people? What can you do to set the captives free? Recognizing we also are that captive to some greater or lesser degree!
May the Lord Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints help us to look into our lives and become aware of the many opportunities that God offers us to serve Him in those we meet, those we live with, those we work with, those that we bump shoulders with. These people are really Jesus in disguise!