Gospel: Mt 23:1-12
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,
“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees have sat down on the chair of Moses. So you shall do and observe all they say; but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say. They tie up heavy burdens and load them on the shoulders of the people, but they do not even lift a finger to move them. They do everything in order to be seen by people: they wear very wide bands of the law around their foreheads, and robes with large tassels. They enjoy the first places at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and they like being greeted in the marketplace, and being called ‘Master’ by the people.
But you, do not let yourselves be called Master, because you have only one Master, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Neither should you call anyone on earth Father, because you have only one Father, he who is in heaven. Nor should you be called Leader, because Christ is the only Leader for you. Let the greatest among you be the servant of all. For whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be made great.
Jesus’ concept of greatness is a direct contradiction to the contemporary worldview which measures greatness in terms of riches, power, prestige and position. For the Lord, greatness is to be measured in terms of service, i.e., not how many serve you but how many do you serve. It is always possible to work for the Church and for God without being a servant. In fact, there are times when Church workers do their jobs grudgingly or go about their ministries for the wrong motives, such as self-promotion.
In the gospel, Jesus exhorts the disciples and the crowds not to follow the bad example of the Scribes and Pharisees who desire prominence. The invitation is to follow the example of Jesus the Servant. To follow his example is to have the heart and mind of a servant. Without the heart and mind of a servant, it is easy for a Christian to succumb to the temptation to misuse or abuse his or her position, talents, skills, education for personal gain. A servant like Jesus exhibits humility, availability, flexibility, spontaneity and punctuality. He performs his tasks with dedication and devotion, be it great or small. A servant with the heart and mind like Jesus is faithful to his commitment. He can be relied upon to bring to completion whatever mission entrusted to him. A real servant like Jesus maintains a low profile. He does not promote or call attention to himself or to his achievements. He is not a celebrity and does not seek approval or applause of others. He is content with quietly serving in the shadows.