The final words of today’s gospel passage from Mark are startling—but not as startling as they were two thousand years ago:
For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life in ransom for many.
Obviously James and John had other ideas, two brothers wanting to “sit,” one at the right and one at the left of the new King. So excited were they, they did not even pick up on Jesus’ hard question, “Can you drink of the same cup as I will drink?
Whether it be for lack of employment, loss of savings, an education on hold, natural disasters or manmade disasters like war—for sure, many people are facing hard times these days. But actually, with these realities providing a context, a person might just be in a better position to understand Jesus’ call to serve rather than to be served. When times are tough, those who reach out to help and care—to serve the needs of others—touch us, give us consolation, and restore our hope in humanity.
What is more and what Jesus would have us understand is that to serve is going to necessitate in some way being a ransom for another’s misfortune. If I tutor a failing student or bring a homebound person to church with me, in some manner or another I have “put myself out.” I am offering myself as a ransom for another so that person might be liberated, (for instance in the aforementioned examples), from otherwise being left behind educationally or from being left homebound. For Christians, service and ransom are “hand in glove”—they are essential elements of Stewardship.
As we celebrate the Mass together, this Most Holy Eucharist, we are offering thanks to the Father for giving us his Son as ransom for us and for our sins—for now and for the ages to come. This is why the Christian may count her or his acts of loving kindness, especially when it involves personal sacrifice, as being united with Jesus the Savior, and as Living the Holy Eucharist. At the conclusion of this Mass, the dismissal will probably include words such as, “Go and glorify the Lord by the way you live your lives!” And in some form, that daily life is going to include offering our lives as ransom for someone in need. May The Good Lord strengthen our resolve and even increase our joy in doing so!
Today is World Mission Sunday— Do you know the date of your Baptism? Well, on that day, you became a missionary, called by Our Lord to share your faith with those around you—and to be part of the Church’s mission to the world.
We are not all able to travel to foreign lands. However, we can all make effort in our daily lives—through prayer and sacrifice—to support those men and women who are called to leave their homeland and preach the Good News of the Lord in a foreign land.
Just as our young church in the United States received support in the 19th century from the Catholics of Europe through the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, today the growing churches in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Pacific Islands also require financial help. Your generous support of this Annual Appeal by the Society of the Propagation of the Faith.