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October 18, 2015

“Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.”

“Honey, would you fix the roof, it is leaking?” A wife asked her husband after a heavy rain.

Look at me, who do you think I am; do I look like a roofer?” He replied.

A few days later, when he came home after work, his wife begged him: “Honey, would you repair the faucet at the kitchen sink?”

He answered, “Who do you think I am; do I look like a plumber?”

A week later, her car didn’t start.  “Honey, would you replace the battery for my car, it’s dead.”

Who do you think I am; do I look like a mechanic?” He yielded back.

It was raining heavily again on the long weekend but the roof was not leaking; the faucet at the kitchen sink ran well and she could drive her car around town.  Her husband was so surprised.

“Honey what did you do?  The roof is fine, the faucet is good and your car is running?”

“Well the new neighbor fixed it all.”

“How much did he charge?”

“Nothing.  He suggested either I bake him a cake or kiss him three times.”

“What kind of cake did you bake for him?” her husband inquired.

Look at me.  Who do you think who I am?  Do I look like a baker?

In the Gospel this Sunday, two of Christ’s disciples, James and John, wanted positions of honor and authority in his Kingdom.  Jesus reminded them that worldly rulers lord it over their charges, but this is not the way it should be in his kingdom.  In Christ’s domain those in authority must be the servants of those in their charge.

Today there is much discussion about authority and freedom.  One basic truth in this discussion is the fact that in all human society there must be someone in authority, someone with power and right to give commands, someone must make the final decisions.  You can’t have a country without a responsible head.  You can’t have a team without a coach, a ship without a captain, an army without a general, a tribe without a chief, a business without a manager.  For every group of human beings there has to be a ‘boss,’ whether appointed or elected.

Jesus knew there had to be an authority.  His complaint was that many abused authority; they were selfish, unjust, and even cruel.  In Christ’s kingdom the leaders were to be the servants of those in their charge.

Right here we see the answer to the question of authority and freedom.  The person in command must plan and work for the good of everyone in his group.  At the same time the subjects must be free to offer respectful suggestions, even criticism.  Finally, all must act according to the decision of the one who is responsible for the group.  Even in a democracy, elected leaders must make decisions.

This must be the process in the smallest but most important unit of society, the family.  Many families talk things over and decide as a group.  Some other families have no one who would take the final responsibility.  This is the condition in some of our organizations like our schools or parishes.  Often we find as a result that those who should obey are the ones who lord it over those who are responsible.  The public worship of the family of God is an example of a group thinking and acting together.  The Holy Mass can teach us how to give orders and how to take orders.  There, Jesus shows that “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”

This week we celebrate Mission Sunday. Those serving to spread the faith throughout the world are called upon to live the sacrificial love of the Lord. Those in the missions know what suffering is. They face famine and disease every day. They face political repression. They face the temptation to compromise the faith. They face the temptation to give up. Those serving in the missions experience a close identification with Jesus, the suffering servant.

Please keep our missionaries in your prayer and support them in whatever way you can.