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

Because of the Feast of St. James, yesterday’s gospel reading was taken from an episode in which James and his brother John are featured (Mt 20:20-28).  Here, the mother of the brothers comes to Jesus asking that He make it that her sons sit on either side of Him in the Kingdom.  In response, Jesus asks the brothers if they are prepared to drink from His chalice.  They say they are, and Jesus says they will, but, even so, Jesus goes on to say that places by His side are given by the Father, not Jesus Himself.  After the other ten apostles become indignant He tells them all that they should be servants of all, in just the same way as Jesus came to serve and give His own life.  Jesus’ call for His apostles, and us, to serve all surely wasn’t easy for them to hear, just as it is not easy for us to hear.  To put the needs of others always ahead of our own needs is not the inclination of our fallen state.  While we do need to care for our bodily health and must have certain necessities (food, clothing, shelter), it is worth taking an inventory of what we consider necessities.  Divesting ourselves of unnecessary “stuff” allows us to focus more on, and give more to, God and others.  It also serves to unclutter our lives and should bring a calm that comes with simplicity.  What things can we “not do without” that we really can do without?  Weaning ourselves from these things will “clear the decks” so that we are better able to serve God and neighbor.  A critical review (on a regular basis) of our possessions and our charitable giving (in time and treasure)  regularly is critical for our spiritual and physical health and growth.

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