Posted by: cris | October 19, 2009

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe Week XXIX, Year B 18 October 2009

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe
Week XXIX, Year B
18 October 2009
Isaiah 53:10-11 /// Hebrews 4:14-16 /// Mark 10:35-45

We are fast approaching the end of our liturgical calendar with just six weeks remaining before we start the season of Advent, those four Sundays before Christmas.  And just like the days, today’s Gospel shows us Jesus Christ moving fast toward Jerusalem for His Passion, Death, and Resurrection.  In fact, Jesus had just made His third and final prediction of His Pasch in the preceding scene of this Sunday’s Gospel.
Unfortunately, His disciples have failed anew to grasp its full meaning that the brothers James and John requested Him that they may sit beside Him when He comes in His glory, one at His right and another at His left.  Worst, the other ten heard it that they became indignant with the brothers James and John because they also have their own vested interests!
Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized 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.” (Mk.10:42-45)
Imagine Jesus calling the 12 together before Him, full of love and understanding in the midst of their rivalries, His openness to the request of James and John as well as His fairness with the ten others.  He was very accommodating, allowing each of the 12 to be his true self no matter how silly they may be!  What Jesus had was purely His love and care for them, not patience nor resignation.
And that is exactly how the Lord deals with each of us today!  Never does He frown or ask us to shut up, nor snicker with our stupid requests and crazy ideas.  He simply waits lovingly for us to get a feel of His life and of Himself as we journey through life.
I could feel all these things from Jesus Christ because like the 12, I must confess that I could not also grasp fully yet the Lord’s brand of service and servanthood.
Yes, I am still searching for it, even grappling with it especially in these last five years of my 11 years of priesthood.  When I think of serving the Lord, I think of giving myself by preparing for my every celebration of the Mass, hearing the confessions of people even on ordinary days, visiting the sick, counselling the troubled and lonely, teaching my students, and praying always.
But, deep down inside me, I always feel these were not enough; something was still missing that whenever I would return home to our residence after a hard day’s, and even night’s, ministry and work serving Jesus among the poor or the sick or troubled, I felt I have not truly served at all.  This is especially true when I open the fridge, or turn on the TV, or simply lie on my bed with the air conditioner humming with its cold air.
Last Friday I felt Jesus giving me a glimpse of His kind of service after praying over this Sunday’s Gospel when I visited our Parish volunteers in the office, Ka Maring and Ka Luring.  They were showing me our photos taken during our enriching Marian pilgrimage last Monday that we decided to have another similar trip on December 09 to Intramuros and a Lenten “visita iglesia” either to Laguna de Bay area or Batangas on March 22 next year.
At first, I balked with the March 22 trip because that’s my 45th birthday!  But, I consented later and willingly gave up my tradition of silently celebrating my birthday with my family because I realized then an important aspect of being a servant of Christ which is daring to become dependent on others.
All my life even before my ordination, I have thought of service as doing and working alone and independently for Jesus Christ through His people; it was more of a one-way traffic for me because it is just me, and me alone, doing things for people.  As much as possible, I only ask help from God and not from people I serve because I don’t want being indebted with anyone.  I am the kind of person who tries my very best of standing on my own, who would rather give than receive, help than be helped to the extent that I would willingly bear every hardship and difficulty than rely on others. Admittedly, it was only last Friday while after praying and meeting our volunteers when I was able to admit that my kind of service was after all filled with pride and even arrogance to some degree.  I refused to be served by others because I have unconsciously separated myself from the genuine love being offered by others just like the rich young man last week in the Gospel.  I have failed to feel and experience the love being shared by others serving me that in the process, I have forgotten to put much love on my service too.
That Friday afternoon as I looked back on our recent Marian pilgrimage, I learned that to serve like Jesus Christ is not really about giving and doing but more of being; that a servant of the Lord is somebody who is one with the people and not detached from them, daring to become dependent than independent, allowing others to serve us too so that we could serve better in the process.

To depend on others does not necessarily mean to be served; it is more of relying on somebody in order to get a more realistic feel of how to truly serve. This is symbolism of the Suffering Servant in the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah:  Jesus indeed bore all our infirmities by offering His life as a ransom for many because He relied on the Father than on His own powers.  He could have avoided being crucified but did not do so in order to be one with us as our Priest according to the Letter to the Hebrews who went through every trial in life except sin; how could we be so afraid to ask His help if He Himself went through all our difficulties in life except sin?
Here we find the service of Jesus Christ more of being one with others unlike the Gentiles whose rulers lord over them.  Again, service is more about relationships based more on love and communion rather than position and ranks, power and authority.  During our pilgrimage, I pointed out to my parishioners the pre-Vatican II architecture of churches with long communion rails around the sanctuary:  its purpose was simply to separate the priests and the lay people.  Following Vatican II, church architecture went into semi- or circular lay-outs or designs that gravitate towards the altar to show the communion of the clergy and the faithful.  Sad to say until now in our country, we are still living in what the late Cardinal Dulles identified as “hierarchical model of the church” wherein authority of those above is the stress than the “communitarian- communio model” of fellowship of life, charity, and truth animated by the Holy Spirit through witnessing and dialogue.
Notice the kind of services being rendered by various organizations these past weeks in the aftermath of “Ondoy” and “Pepeng”— relief operations have sometimes turned into advertisements and worst even as propaganda and election-campaign or simply for “pogi points.”  The best measure of service, of being truly a servant of Jesus Christ is when after we have served others, they in turn serve us too not in exchange of what we have done to them but simply because our being one with others had come into a full circle of brothers and sisters living as one in Christ Jesus.  Hence, when we serve, we shatter all walls and differences that separate us from each other through ranks and positions and start living as one family, one community of believers just like when we celebrate the Holy Eucharist.
Amen.
fr. nicanor f.lalog II
santissima trinidad parish
malolos city 3000
bulacan, philippines

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