29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
"The key word is service: to God, to neighbor, and to community"
Like most, I spend some time in front of the television .. especially when there are special events taking place ..... or the Redskins are playing. There are some programs that I make an effort to watch, and others that I watch if I have the time, or I will save them on tape for watching at a later time.
Retaining youth in spirit only, there are occasions that I like to watch cartoon programs ... Tom and Jerry, Sylvester and Tweety, and Peanuts specials ... even the Sunday funnies are read first after the headlines. There was one special on Peanuts, and I have watched these many times over, where poor Charlie Brown catches it from all sides. As usual, Lucy is the ring leader, and she likes the leadership and the credit that goes with it. In this show, Lucy decided to produce a play, and manipulates Charlie into being the director, then proceeds to tell him how to run the show ... and who to pick for the leading lady ... her, of course!
Perhaps we all have the tendency to be pushy at times when we are trying to get ahead. Most of the time it is done unconsciously, but there are times when it is done deliberately. Then if things do not work out well and plans collapse, and it seems as though the blame for the whole thing will fall on us and we do our best to shift the responsibility elsewhere. If things work out well, then we will be happy to accept the credit. My wife tells me that I am good at this!
We like some glory, but tend to shy away from the work that leads to it. We dislike failure and work hard to cover it up. There are times that I will not undertake a project for fear of its failure. James and John in our Gospel were glory seekers. They wanted a share in the glory of Christ ... as do we ... but they really did not know what was involved ... definitely they were not asking for what Jesus was about to go through.
The scene in the Gospel is tinted with temptation, as is our daily lives. It has to deal with injustice, the injustice of getting to the top without concern for the others. Injustice is probably high on the list of top sins. We violate another's rights. Whether it is in material goods, a good name, a job, whatever.
We each have rights. We are entitled to them, just as anyone else. But we do not have the right to push ahead when a position belongs to someone else. Stepping on toes is unjust. When we wrong someone, we sin against that person, and God. The temptation to wrong someone is always strong and to gain power when power belongs to another is wrong. We do injustice to the person and to the job, and this normally mushrooms into further injustices.
Take the story of our first parents for example. They were not satisfied with what they had ... they wanted more ... they wanted the garden AND the Gardener ... they wanted to be equal to, or greater than, God. To accomplish this they did an injustice ... they disobeyed. And their guilt and its merits are still with us and nag at our inner shell.
We are on trial here for a short span of time, a small speck in the universe. The outcome of our trial is in our hands. The end results for those that have passed the test is glory with God. We have guidelines to help us through this trial ... to keep the Commandments, to love God and neighbor, and to serve God and our neighbor.
This expresses service. This is the key word, service to God, to neighbor, and to community. If anyone is busy with service, he or she will have difficulty in thinking of himself or herself, thus closing out a lot of the temptations that would hound us. It is hard to do an injustice if we are in service, providing, of course, we are not doing it for our own glory. If that happens, then we are in double trouble. We are no longer acting in the name of Christ but in our own name, thus making a mockery out of the service we are doing. We are seeking glory without knowing what the glory really should be. We have done injustice to ourselves and to others, and to God.
Giving service, whether it is physically helping someone, or just being with someone, listening to their problems, whether it be in prayer for others; guidance to youth; donating to a cause with funds and goods ... we share in being like Christ ... who "came not to be served, but to serve." To serve others is dying to oneself ... and in the spirit of Christ, we rise with him in his glory.
This is Mission Sunday. To some it may be just another second collection. But it is another way in which we are of service, in helping others in their service. Working together, we spread the Good News, and we help with some immediate needs of those less fortunate than us. It's a chance to make a difference to those who know no other way than poverty and miss hearing the Word of God, both verbally and physically. Not only is money needed for the spread of the Gospel in supporting missionaries, but prayer also ... and lot's of it.
The play in our Peanuts story collapsed for it was disorganized. The real director was not there. Our real director in all that we do is the Holy Spirit. Let the glory be His as we serve each other is the name of Jesus.