Reflections

TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, OCTOBER 17, 2021

WE ARE CALLED TO SERVICE
Greeting (cf. Second Reading)
We have here among us
a high priest capable of feeling our weaknesses
and who was tempted in every way that we are,
though he was without sin.
With his grace and mercy
may Jesus be always with you. R/ And with your spirit.
 
Introduction
Have you noticed how in their campaign for office most politicians use the word “service”? Very much they say they want to be the servants of the people and to be elected so that they can serve. But when they are elected, whom do they serve? Most, and in Nigeria all, usually serve themselves first and then make the people serve them. That should never be the way of the Church. People in church office or as ordinary faithful should have the ambition to serve one another and in this way to serve God. That was Jesus’ way. We ask him today to make it our way.
 
Penitential Act
How much we want others to serve us!
Let us ask the Lord and each other
to forgive us from the heart.
(pause)
 
Lord Jesus, you tell us:
I, the Lord and Master,
came not to be served but to serve.
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
 
Jesus Christ, you warn us
not to imitate the high and the mighty
who make people feel how powerful they are:
Christ, have mercy. R/ Christ, have mercy.
 
Lord Jesus, you assure us
that if we want to be great
we have to serve one another:
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
 
In your kindness forgive us, Lord,
and give us the insight and the strength
to serve one another in love.
Lead us to everlasting life. R/ Amen.
 
Opening Prayer
Let us pray that Jesus may teach us
how to serve one another
(pause)
 
Our God and Father,
your Son Jesus was your equal
and yet he made himself our brother and servant.
May his Spirit be alive in us
and dispose us to become, like your Son,
powerless and vulnerable,
so that we can serve one another,
especially the weakest of our brothers and sisters.
In this way may people experience
how bold you make our love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
 
First Reading: Service through Suffering
The fourth song of the Suffering Servant is fulfilled in Jesus. Humbly and compassionately, he took our sins upon himself and made it possible for us to serve God and one another.
 
1 Reading: ISAIAH 53:10-11
The LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity. If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him. Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.
 
Responsorial Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
R. (22) Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
 
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full. R.
 
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine. R.
 
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you. R.
 
Second Reading: Jesus, Our Strength in Weakness
Jesus understands our weakness because he became a human being like us. He is our strength and help, for he is the Son of God.
 
2 Reading: HEBREWS 4:14-16
Brothers and sisters: Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
 
Alleluia: MARK 10:45
Alleluia, alleluia.
The Son of Man came to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel: Serving with Jesus
The Christian’s greatness lies in humble service. We can learn this from Jesus’ words and example.
 
Gospel: MARK 10:35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?” They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptised with the baptism with which I am baptised?” They said to him, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptised, you will be baptised; but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognised as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great 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.”
 
Commentary
We have some consolation. Not those commanding as masters, not those seeking places of honour, promotion, privileges and medals are great according to the standards of Jesus, but those who know how to serve. To serve is the Christian’s “career.” The servant is at the disposal of all, understands the weakness of others and sees them in himself. There is no campaign or politicking for service. To serve is often painful, but only those capable of sacrificing themselves for others and not running away from difficulties have something to contribute to the world. They accept to be like seeds that die to give life. Ask Jesus who is with us here to help us serve with him.
 
Intercessions
Let us pray to God who serves us in many ways that we may learn from his Son not to spare ourselves so as to spare others, and let us say:
R/ Lord, make us servants of your love.
 
– For the Church, that it may serve the world by standing up for justice and peace and defending the freedom and dignity of the human person, let us pray:
R/ Lord, make us servants of your love.
– For those in authority in the Church, that they may not become functionaries but be “ministers,” that is, servants, let us pray:
R/ Lord, make us servants of your love.
– For our Christian families, that by their mutual care and service parents may prepare their children to render service to others, let us pray;
R/ Lord, make us servants of your love.
– For the many who serve us in various way to provide us with the things and help we need – servants, drivers, nurses, technicians and all the others, too many to name – that we may be grateful to them, let us pray:
R/ Lord, make us servants of your love.
– For ourselves and our communities, that all of us may be less demanding, that we may be attentive to one another and serve each other’s needs and more, let us pray:
R/ Lord, make us servants of your love.
 
Lord our God, we pray you to convert us to the demands of the gospel. Help us to become servants to one another, together with the Servant of all, Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
 
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
as your Son serves us himself at table
in the signs of bread and wine,
he asks us to drink with him the cup
of self-sacrificing service.
Let your Son fill us with that love
which alone can understand
that to be great is to serve others
and to use up our lives
to give them a chance to live.
May we seek no other reward
than to share the destiny of Jesus,
our Lord and Saviour for ever. R/ Amen.
 
Introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer
Let us lift up our hearts and voices to thank God for giving us Someone who experienced our weakness and became one of us to serve and save us and to make us serve the Father and each other.
 
Invitation to the Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with Jesus to our Father in heaven
that we may do his will
and serve his kingdom. R/ Our Father…
 
Deliver Us
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
keep us from the urge
to seek positions of honor or power
at the expense of others.
Help us to pay with our service
the cost of peace and love,
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming among us
of our Saviour Jesus Christ. R/ For the kingdom…
 
Invitation to Communion
This is the Lamb of God
who came not to be served but to serve
and to pay with his life
the price of our freedom.
Happy are we to be invited
to share his table
and to learn from him
what to serve means. R/ Lord, I am not worthy…
 
Prayer after Communion
Loving Father,
your Son has been with us
in this Eucharistic celebration
as the servant of us all.
Let him dispose our hearts
and give us his courage
to understand and accept others,
to accompany them on the road of life,
to suffer their pains,
to rejoice with their joys
and to carry each other’s burdens,
that he may be with us
now and for ever. R/ Amen.
 
Blessing
The message of the Gospel is uncomfortable.
It goes against the grain
of our ingrained human attitude
to be told to serve rather than to be served,
to be willing to spare others
by not sparing ourselves
for the good of others
and to give up the urge for power.
But this is the hard truth
with which Christ has confronted us today.
Like Jesus, then, let us try
in our homes, in our communities, in the Church,
to spend ourselves for others,
with the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.
 
Let us go and serve the Lord in people.
R/ Thanks be to God.

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