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…
When I was a young Brother, my grandmother, who was 80 at the time, became very ill. She lived with my mother, who took great care of her, but it was clear that my mother, who still had a full-time job, couldn’t handle my grandmother physically or emotionally. I didn’t have a clue what to do because I was teaching at Mount St. Joseph in Baltimore, MD at the time and my mother and grandmother lived in Brooklyn, so in desperation I called Brother Harry Eccles. I was fortunate to have lived and taught with Harry at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn for the two years prior to my moving to Baltimore. He got right on it, calling countless nursing homes that were either full or in terrible shape. After a lot of frustration, he called a friend at Catholic Charities in Brooklyn who knew of a new nursing home opening in Queens and eventually she and Harry got my grandmother in there.
In today’s gospel Jesus tells his listeners (and us) that he did not come to be served but to serve. Harry Eccles lived this passage for me at a time of great need and he still lives it today in Hinche Haiti where at 84 he’s an English teacher and a fulltime “grandfather” for the children at Maison Fortuné Orphanage. In the spirit of Harry Eccles and so many other exemplary Xaverian Brothers, and above all, in the spirit of the gospel, I will try to serve someone today.
Begin your prayer today by lighting a candle and sitting for a few minutes in silence. Try to picture someone you might be called to “serve” today. (Most of us don’t have to look far.) Ask God to bless this person and then ask God to bless you so that you might serve as Jesus did.
O God, guide me today as I think about my gospel call to serve. It’s hard to leave my own concerns and interests to focus on the needs of the “other.” You are the “holy Other,” embracing all of us and our needs. May I imitate your selfless love today. Amen.
Majestic and merciful God, we constantly put ourselves before You. As we continue this Lenten journey with whole and contrite hearts, give us the Grace to turn toward You, to see that we are your servants in this world. And, may we who follow the Xaverian Way, commit ourselves to renewing our family and being Your compassionate presence in the world today. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son and our brother. Amen.