The First Reading tells us of the plot against Jeremiah who spoke words his enemies could not accept. Their arrogance shows in what they said: Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah – for instruction shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us bring charges against him, let us not heed any of his words. This arrogance makes people think they are better than others. They reject what Jeremiah said because he did not say what they wanted to hear.
The arrogance of the enemies of Jeremiah shows in the ambition of James and John, who wanted to sit at the right hand and left hand of Jesus. This despite the fact that Jesus spoke to them of his death prior to this. When the other Ten heard this, they were angry at the brothers. Jesus told them: You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave.
Jesus immediately puts a stop to the arrogance and ambition of the Twelve. Jesus is not saying that aspiring for leadership position is bad. Neither is being great bad. This becomes bad when the person resorts to doing evil to attain their ambition. Which is why Jesus said the greatest is to be your servant and the first will be your slave. Leadership is not to be achieved for our good. It is for the good of others, in fact, for the service of others. Jesus himself said The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Jesus shows us what true service is. It is not being known, nor is it having authority and power. The service of Jesus includes giving his life for the ransom of many. While we cannot give our lives to set others free, our service must be for the good of those we serve. Service is not merely giving money or spending say an hour of “charitable” work. Service is looking at the needs of people and filling that need. While only Jesus can set people free, our goal in service is to let people know Jesus is the Savior who sets them free. This is done only when we listen to those we serve. What do they need? And it also requires listening to the Holy Spirit to lead us to respond to the need.
True service is something given by God. It has been entrusted to us, so we do what God wants us to do and how God wants us to do it. We learn to listen to God through those we serve. If we are full of ourselves when we serve, we are serving only ourselves. Because such attitude is not one of humility but one of arrogance, where I know what is best, and I will do this the way I want it.
Lord, reveal to me my arrogance. Give me that desire to do things for you and through you. Give me the humility to listen to those in need, and respond to what they need. Let me have an open heart so you are glorified in all I do.