Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 14: Year 1
“So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 42 to 45)
Our Lord Jesus has just explained how he is to go up to Jerusalem and be humiliated and killed. Yet he is doing this willingly for the sake of the world. Even after hearing his testimony, James and John ask for glory in the next life. Jesus further explains that he serves people and wants us to do the same. James and John were looking for glory.
In some kind of reverse psychology our Lord Jesus pushes them to seek glory in their humility. But I think the greater point is to not seek glory at all. But rather, just be comfortable in serving others. I believe service to others is the Christian calling. Such service includes teaching about decency, compassion, and courtesy as they exist in the society in which they live as well as about the love that God has for us. This is not glory seeking, but rather, being of service to others for their own benefit, and being comfortable doing it.
This way of living and leading is very different from the way of the world. The world leads with intimidation, threats, and negative consequences for people who do not please those over them. Our Lord Jesus says of them, and of our system today, “those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.” This kind of employee abuse has been made manifest in having people work “off the clock,” sexual intimidation or abuse, working in hazardous environments, and so forth. It seems the higher up the chain we go, the more corrupt it becomes. There is too often a severe lack of love in our chains of command. Our Lord Jesus teaches us that love should be a thread within every fabric of our societal cloth.
Today, we also remember Florence Nightingale, Nurse and Social Reformer, 1910. “Until the end of her life, although her illness prevented her from leaving her home, she continued in frequent spiritual conversation with many prominent church leaders of the day, including the local parish priest, who regularly brought Communion to her. By the time of her death on August 13, 1910, her accomplishments and legacy were widely recognized, and she is honored throughout the world as the founder of the modern profession of nursing.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 12)
Let us live to love, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John