Willing to Serve Others, Forgetting Self in Service

First Reading (Is 53: 10-11): After affliction will come light
Second Reading (Heb 4: 14-16) Jesus, Compassionate High Priest
Gospel (Mk 10: 35-45) Ambition of James and John
Chinese Classics:
-: Spare no efforts for the good of the country. No release until death.; (1)
-:Nothing is impossible for a very wise man Forget oneself to love mankind.;(2)
-:As a common old man I have no more obligations. But the refugees on the road finally touch my heart.;(3)

Jesus called them and said to them, .You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.・ (Mk 10: 42-45)

Jesus Christ is the best teacher in the world. But his disciples seemed to be a group of students with very poor perception Earlier they had had a dispute among themselves over who of them was the greatest. On that occasion Jesus had given them a clear message: :Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.;. (Mk 9:35).

While Jesus' words were still reverberating in their ears, a quarrel broke out between two of his disciples over the highest-ranking seat next to Jesus. They were James and John, the two sons of Zebedee. These two disciples were among the first four whom Jesus had called to follow him. At the time Jesus had called them they had been very generous and :left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. "(Mk 1:20)

They had been obedient, acute and light-hearted in responding in a way a Chinese proverb says, :as soon as the Emperor calls, one responds to his orders without waiting for his presence.; How prompt and willing they had been to follow Jesus!

Perhaps this was the cause for their pride in claiming to be head of the apostles. Therefore after Jesus had foretold his sufferings three times they came up to him together and said, :Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.; And he said to them, .What is it you want me to do for you?・ And they said to him, .Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.・ (Mk 10: 35-37)

This was an obvious example of a struggle to attain power and benefits among the others. Though they belonged to a very small group, there still was a need to resolve the issue of the seating order of whom could sit next to Jesus! In so quiet a way such human concerns can creep into the holy Church!

Jesus then said to them, .You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink? They replied, .We are able.・ Then Jesus said to them, .The cup that I drink you will drink, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.・KWhen the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.; (Mk 10: 38-41)

Those who contend for a special seat are foolish enough already, but those who react strongly against such contentions are even more foolish. Facing such a group of .foolish・ disciples Jesus uttered these immortal words, :Do to others as you would have them do to you.; He wanted to teach us how to use power wisely.

Jesus lived for the well-being of humankind. Therefore his church also should exist for the good of the whole world. Within his church, power has one single purpose only, to serve others. The Pope himself, the highest pastor of the church on earth, always calls himself, :Servant of the servants of the Lord.;

Self-centredness and selfishness may be the biggest flaws in human beings. The most common fault committed by a self-centred or selfish person is to seek benefit for oneself by harming others. Sometimes such a person even harms others without any gain to self. Individuals can be selfish, so can a group of people. Even a country or nation, or a religion, even all of humankind, can have a collective selfishness, causing one to look after oneself only, but be blind to others.

Those persons who live for the good of others act like Jesus. He was so deeply absorbed in his mission of the redemption of all humankind that he was oblivious even to his need to eat and sleep. His relatives and friends once even said of him, :He has gone out of his mind.; (Mk 3:21)

Yuen Song Woon was a high commissioner stationed in Liu Tung at the end of the Ming Dynasty. To protect the country he seemed to have .gone mad.・ He had forgotten himself, he had forgotten his family. He once exclaimed that he had changed into :a desperado within the boundaries of the Ming Dynasty.; The Great Yu who regulated the courses of the rivers walked past his own house three times without going in. Zhu Ge Liang heroically said that he would :Spare no efforts for the good of the country. No release until death.;(1) All these people seemed to have .gone mad・ fighting for their ideals.

Actually living for others is not limited to the deeds of such heroes. Good parents spend their lives to raise their children; dedicated teachers labour to exhaustion for their students; upright government officials bear responsibility and blame for the people. These people are good examples of living for others.

To sacrifice one's life for the sake of the gospel, or for one's country, or for others, is to live by the spirit of Jesus' words: :Do to others as you would have them do to you.;

The fundamental element of such a spirit is to acknowledge and respect others' needs and feelings. Those who live for others stand by them and together shoulder the burdens of their lives. Standing by them means to accompany the other, going fast or slow as the other does, and if the other person falls, then rise up together and go on.

People who serve others are generous and open-minded. Wang Wei said, :Nothing is impossible for a very wise man. Forget oneself to love mankind.; (2) Lu You had resigned from his duties at court but the fate of the ordinary people still moved him. :As a common old man I have no more obligations. But the refugees on the road finally touch my heart.;(3)

And in the forefront of Jesus' mind was always the thought that he had come for the salvation of all human beings and for the deliverance of you and me.


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