“Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (MT 20: 26-28)
It is natural for us, humans, to dream about greatness, achievements and success. Our Lord reminds us where greatness lies, what should be achieved and how to be a man of success: “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.”
“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.” (Gospel Acclamations)
“All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” (EPH 4:31-32.5:1-2)
Our Lord asks us today to “be imitators of God” as a married couple, as parents, friends, neighbors and members of community or society. Our LORD “handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God”, so we can “be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another,” making a gift of self, changing ourselves for the edification of our spouses or friends, and respecting their dignity and vocation. We can be “a fragrant aroma” for this world.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord;whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.” DT6: 5-9
There is only one name in which we are saved—Jesus, the Lord. There is only one thing He expects from us—to allow Him to love us and to love Him. And because we are human, we receive good suggestions about how to remember: “take to heart these words”, “drill them,” “speak of them whether you are busy or at rest,” “bind them at your wrist,” and “write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.” We need reminders to remember; we need rituals daily, weekly, monthly and yearly.
“Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (MT 16: 25)
It is like being a giver of self versus a demander, who’s making an insistent and peremptory request, made as if by right. It is like looking more for what I can do for my spouse or friends versus saving my life for my pleasure only and using others for this. We receive freedom to choose—“whoever wishes….”
“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness; for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (GN 12)
When Abram received this call from God, he was 75 years old. And he was asked to “go forth” instead of settle down. God’s answer for Abram’s obedience and trust in God was: “I will make of you a great nation” and “I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” We are also asked by God to “go forth” to “a land that God will show us.” The beauty of our daily reflection on God’s word is that we can always be inspired to leave our routines and look for a new perspective.
“The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the Evil One.” (MT 5: 37)
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, knows the importance of words. The One, who “said and it happened,” invites us to take responsibility for our words. A simple rule, “let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes,’” directs us to Him; when we mix the meanings of words, we come closer to evil.
“Incline my heart, O God, to your decrees, and favor me with your law.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.” (JN 21: 25)
We will see in heaven how many times and in how many situations Our Lord was with us and how much He did for us, especially when we felt abandoned or totally alone. We will see later how many “other things that Jesus did” in our lives, in our families and for our beloved. We will see, but now we can trust St. John that “the whole world would contain the books that would be written” “if these were to be described individually”–what Jesus did for us. The best we can do is to be thankful. Even though we do not see right now, we will see in the next life how much more we are loved daily.
“I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord; he will guide you to all truth.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” (JN 17: 14)
We received the most precious gift from Our Lord–the word of God the Father. We are somehow connected by this word. Our Lord received the word of God’s love for us and gave it to us. We should protect this word and share it with others in the world. This word proclaims the best message for everybody in this world—we are loved, but “the world hates us, because we do not belong to the world.” This world can’t exist without love and at the same moment rejects this love. So even if we are rejected and hated, we need to proclaim the good news because people have to know.
“Your word, O Lord, is truth; consecrate us in the truth.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” (JN 15: 15-17)
In this commandment we receive a summary of all the commandments: from Moses’ commandments to the Church’s commandments—love one another; the essence of the Good News. Our Lord gave us this commandment because we are His friends. We become His friends by listening to God’s word, by accepting the fact that He chose us, and by going out to “bear fruit that will remain.”
“I call you my friends, says the Lord, for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. ‘I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.’” (JN 15: 9-11)
The Liturgy of the Word is never afraid to proclaim the same message over and over again: “remain in my love.” Our Lord shares with us His love for His Father and His Father’s love for Him and for us; He shares not only the Father’s commandments to “remain in his love” but also His joy that our joy “might be complete.”
“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Gospel Acclamation)