Today’s readings tell us that goodness always faces attack from the envious world. The first reading condemns cynical attacks on the virtuous man by godless opponents. And in the gospel Christ tells the apostles that because of his godly preaching he’ll be tortured & killed. Lets confess ways we follow the cruel cynical world rather than the suffering Christian path of virtue.
Goodness doesnt draw attention to itself. Really good people would be surprised to be described as such. For example, I know someone whose child needed an operation. The doctor was in the theatre for 9 hours. Before going in he took time to tell the parents what was involved. Afterwards, he thought nothing of spending lots of time explaining what he’d done. That sort of dedications is a living example of Christ’s teaching that the great are those who serve. He challenges those in service jobs of one kind or another to do their work with humble caring hearts.
This Christian model of self-giving service is the opposite of what the apostles expected. They saw Christ is as a step up the ladder for them. They didn’t want to suffer for good but be self-glorifying top dogs in His worldly kingdom won by military force. Christ put them right by setting a small child before them. In his kingdom the great imitate the innocent little ones.
That is Christ warns us against the greatest temptation we all face, self-centred people-trampling ambition. The devil’s fall began with “I will not serve”. The same desire in us is the root of all war. As St.James says: “You want something and you haven’t got it so you’re prepared to kill..you’ve an ambition that you cant satisfy so you fight to get your way”. Even prayers can be tainted by this, as James explains: “you pray and don’t get it because you pray for something to indulge your own desires”.
What should pray for? Obviuously to be true-hearted giving people for God and others. Not just because Christ says so but because its the way to content and happiness in this world as well as the next. Its the choice he made in the desert at the start of his public life. There he rejected Satan’s way of cruel worldly glory and self-seeking; the devil wanted him to be like himself, a Hitler, crushing enemies and riding to glory on the blood of millions. Christ choose instead to be the suffering servant of scripture. His choice was of total self-giving love as the only way to true greatness and the world’s salvation.
Thats also our path to greatness. We too should live out our Christian life in loving service of God and others no matter what it costs. For Worshipping God faithfully every Sunday and caring thoughtfully for others amidst lifes struggles, is what makes life worthwhile. As the song says: “If I help somebody as I pass along then my living will not be in vain”. By living our vocation in this way we’re happier and we change the world for good.
Satan said, “I’ll not serve”. Christ said I’ll serve God and others unto death. Satan was cast down. Christ was raised to glory, freeing us and beginning God’s good reign on earth. Obviously our choice, if we are to be true Sons of God, is to imitate our loving Savior, to serve God and others fully and humbly in the church and in whatever worldly work we do. Then we’ll be happy in this life and raised up at last to glory. For the hard self-centred world fades to ashes at last but to Christ the Servant king on the cross, and us his faithful, belongs the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever, amen. So as the people of God called to serve God and others faithfully with humble caring hearts, we make our profession of faith.
Prayers of the faithful
Conscious of his Sons self-giving love for us we make our prayer to our Father in heaven for the things we need…
For church leaders that they may make the same choice as Christ to be the suffering servants of the faithful and all humanity, and so bring the world to fullness of life and salvation.
For civil leaders that they may take the path of honest service of those they govern not that of corrupt self-service and power.
For our youth that they may choose Christ’s way of faithfully serving God, the church and humanity, and so as to make a difference by their lives and gain an eternal reward..
For all parents in the home and all married couples, that they may dedicate themselve to faithful long-suffering loving service of their partners, spouses and children helped by God’s grace.
For the sick, the aged, the lonely and the poor that through our our loving care for them, they may know the love of God.
For the dead, especially those of our parish family who have died recently.
We offer these our humble prayers for our real spiritual and temporal needs, through Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God forever and ever, amen.
Recently children asked me how the Fatima seers died. I was surprised, but they’d seen the film on TV. I told them that Lucy lived to a ripe old age, visited by bishops and cardinals for advice. But the younger chidren of the apparition were told by Mary that they wouldn’t be happy in this world. They would die young, but by their suffering they’d redeem many. They were happy to do so. They never complained but lived their short lives of illness with great devotion and love. Lets pray to Mary that we’ll lead innocent, charitable, faith-filled lives like those chidren, even in the face of sickness and suffering..Hail Mary