Sr. Phyllis Jaszkowiak
October 17, 2021
Today’s Gospel is the story of James and John seeking to be number one. Jesus says, “Can you drink the cup that I drink?” They answer, “Yes, we can!” They did drink the cup Jesus was to drink. James was martyred, John was exiled to the Island of Patmos. Not quite the Number one they thought it would be.
We all have these tendencies to be number one, to be acclaimed, to be recognized. Jesus tells us ‘number one’ are those people who serve others, minister to others, work for peace and justice where ever we happen to be. In actuality, in God’s eyes, we are all number one
A few weeks ago we heard that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts, mind, soul and body. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.. This is really what it means to be number one, loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Jesus says it this way, “Whoever wishes to be first among you will be your servant, whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Being the servant of all takes self-knowledge. We need to know our gifts, so we can use them well. St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians (12:28), listed gifts of the early Christian community: apostles, prophets, teachers, deeds of power, healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, different tongues. If we were to list the gifts of our community what list would we have? Gift of organization, gift of visiting those housebound, gift of technology, gift of creativity, gift of décor, gift of speaking, gift of listening, gift of being present, gift of serving at Mass, gift of feeding people, gift of song, gift of proclaiming Scripture, gift of parenthood, gift of spousal love, gift of leadership, gift of action for justice, and many others.
It is in using our God-given gifts that we become number one. That is why most native and indigenous communities use a circle to describe their communities.. A circle is equal, and everyone gets to use whatever gifts they have and are recognized for those gifts. The community is enriched, and envy and jealousy have no part in the community.
Perhaps that is what we are being called to, being in a diverse circle of equals, using our gifts to help the community grow, loving each other and their gifts, acknowledging God is among us, sitting in the circle with us.
What better way to be followers of Jesus.