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At the service of all with the love of Christ
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mark 10L35-45)
World Mission Sunday
October 21, 2012
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
THERE was no doubt that the Twelve were sincere in their desire to follow Jesus. As Peter once pointed out, they had “put aside everything to follow him.” (See Mk 10:28.) Yet, for quite a time, they all had failed to understand that to follow Jesus meant to walk the thorny path of self-renunciation and of generous service to all, in imitation of their Teacher.
Christ’s life can be described in several ways. One of the simplest and truest descriptions is “SERVICE.” The whole of his life was a “service.” This word includes everything that can be said about him. His teaching was a service enlightening the minds and enkindling the hearts of his listeners. The healings he performed were a service to all those afflicted by the devil’s possession and by physical suffering or handicaps. His self-offering on Calvary as a victim of atonement and reconciliation was his highest form of service benefiting all mankind.
All the Apostles, after some initial difficulties (see first part of today’s Gospel), guided by the Spirit, came to understand this demanding assignment. After Pentecost, they all served the Gospel and their Lord even unto death—the martyrs’ death. Paul, the latecomer, made himself “all things to all men” with a devouring zeal for their salvation.
The Church, as the community of disciples which continues the mission of Jesus throughout the centuries, must be characterized by the same attitude of its Founder and the Twelve: humble service to all; service unto death.
This leaves no room for unbecoming competitions with the powerful of this world. Just as Christ exercised his kingship through service, so must the Church, as a saving institution, exercise her God-given powers in a spirit of humble service and selfless stewardship. The Church is meant to be the “servant of all mankind.” She is called to serve all men through her sacraments and prayer, through her detachment from earthly possessions, and through her commitment to the promotion of all authentic human values and beyond.
Such a fundamental orientation and line of action must involve all the members of the Church. It starts from the Leaders and stretches out to the youngest and weakest of her members. Just as every Christian is “another Christ,” so is every Christian called to be another “servant” – servant of God and of all men, especially of one’s neighbors.
In the measure that the Church as a whole and every individual believer are faithful to their fundamental vocation to serve in imitation of Christ, they will be offering the most eloquent witness to their faith. Their presence and their life will be the most precious gift to the world—“handog ng mga Kristiyano sa mundo.”
The missionary activity of the Church – her effort to bring the Good News of Christ to all peoples—is one of the most precious services she can render. Through this service she enables all human beings to know God’s immense love for them and to respond to that love through a life lived according to the teaching and example of Jesus Christ.