11 May 2017
Paul and his friends went by sea from Paphos to Perga in Pamphylia where John left them to go back to Jerusalem. The others carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the sabbath and took their seats. After the lessons from the Law and the Prophets had been read, the presidents of the synagogue sent them a message: ‘Brothers, if you would like to address some words of encouragement to the congregation, please do so.’ Paul stood up, held up a hand for silence and began to speak:
‘Men of Israel, and fearers of God, listen! The God of our nation Israel chose our ancestors, and made our people great when they were living as foreigners in Egypt; then by divine power he led them out, and for about forty years took care of them in the wilderness. When he had destroyed seven nations in Canaan, he put them in possession of their land for about four hundred and fifty years. After this he gave them judges, down to the prophet Samuel. Then they demanded a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin. After forty years, he deposed him and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.”’
After he had washed the feet of his disciples, Jesus said to them:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
no servant is greater than his master,
no messenger is greater than the man who sent him.
‘Now that you know this, happiness will be yours if you behave accordingly. I am not speaking about all of you: I know the ones I have chosen; but what scripture says must be fulfilled: Someone who shares my table rebels against me.
‘I tell you this now, before it happens,
so that when it does happen
you may believe that I am He.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever welcomes the one I send welcomes me,
and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’
After he had washed the feet of his disciples
Last year I went for a company trip with my wife, some colleagues and our agency leader. On the first day when we reached our hotel, we alighted from the bus. While some of us stood around waiting for the luggage to be unloaded, our agency leader helped to unload and carry the bags from the bus to the hotel. This left a deep impression on my wife, who later remarked, “That’s a good leader.”
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus had some words for his disciples, but these were spoken only after he had performed the act that he wanted his disciples to emulate – he had washed their feet. Christ led by example and he asks us, his disciples, to practice servant leadership – to serve those who follow us.
In his first year as Pope, Pope Francis frequently spoke out against clerical careerism, where clergy see their role as a career, much like us in the corporate world. Yet, in Christianity, it is meant to be the other way around – where the higher is one’s position, the lower he is called to place himself in service to others. This is the way of Christ.
This is why the Pope, the highest position in the Catholic hierarchy, has the title “Servant of Servants”. The message that Pope Francis wants to send to the world is this – that Christianity is all about service to the lowest of society. It is ultimately about the individual and loving them, with God’s unconditional love for him or her.
Today, let us reflect on the opportunities we have to be Christ to another by serving them.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Daniel Tay)
Prayer: We pray for Christians who think they should be served; may Christ shine his light on them.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for a wonderful servant leader.