I bet you can remember your first summer job. It probably wasn’t glamorous.
My first summer job off of the farm was working at the gas station in the center of my rural hometown. My main tasks were making pizza, taking out the trash and cleaning the restrooms. I remember one whole afternoon being committed to cleaning said restrooms. This upset my sixteen-year-old self. I knew I had more talents than this and believed I shouldn’t be working at the gas station anyway, let alone cleaning the bathrooms! I thought I should at least be on the cash register full time or improving the coffee offerings. I suppose I thought I should be doing something “better,” something up front and with more glamour and dignity. I soon after quit this job due to my poor attitude.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is beginning the last stretch of his earthly life’s journey. He is making his way with the disciples to Jerusalem where he will be handed over. As he does throughout Chapter 20 of Matthew’s Gospel, our Lord continues to use these last days and hours with his disciples to stress the most important things he wants his followers to understand and remember when he is gone.
Jesus communicates to his disciples that he will be betrayed, he will suffer a painful death and will be raised after three days. This sends the disciples and even James and John’s mother into worrying about what place her sons would have when the Lord departs from them. All those present immediately begin to think about themselves, their positions and status, their legacy, and their own desires. They forget what Jesus has been teaching them all along. They forget that Jesus’ entire ministry was spent amongst the poor, weak, lame and the outcast, and that he was exemplifying for them the way of life in which they themselves were being asked to live. A life lived for others. Jesus quickly reminds them of this. He explains that they too will drink from the same chalice as him and this involves being a servant. Jesus explains if they wish to be great or wish to be first, they will need to be last, as well as a slave.
This Lent is an opportunity for all of us to rearrange our lives to become servants for the Gospel and therefore choose Jesus Christ as our master. Jesus shows us how to do this. He spent his life giving of himself. Father Larry Richard says: “Even on the cross, Jesus kept giving!”
Seeking out the vulnerable, serving the least among us and doing the littlest and meager tasks may not necessarily be our natural dispositions. As we can see in today’s Gospel, it wasn’t natural for the disciples either. The disciples didn’t have this disposition until they saw all of this lived out in Jesus and not even then. It took lots of effort, failures and getting back up to try over and over again, and the gift of the Holy Spirit!
This life of service is challenging. It’s a time where we are asked to voluntarily lower ourselves. We are to suffer in different ways. We aren’t in it for the glory. We serve for the benefit of those we are serving. Not for what we can receive.
Thankfully many years have passed since my experience working in the gas station, and life has provided me with many opportunities to grow in humility and an understanding of the importance of service. I am always growing and being stretched by Jesus’ invitations to give of myself. You may miss the lesson, or you may learn the lesson after the fact, like me.
Many things can keep us from giving of ourselves. Some things even teach us to take and consume instead of giving. Pornography is one of these things. To learn more about how to resist pornography and how to use technology well as an individual, family, parish, or school, please consider visiting CleanHeartOnline.com.
Amanda Zurface has served as the Catholic Campaign Coordinator for Covenant Eyes since February 2016. Amanda is the co-author of Equipped: Smart Catholic Parenting in a Sexualized Culture, Confident: Helping Parents Navigate Online Exposure, and Transformed by Beauty. Amanda holds undergraduate degrees in Theology and Social Justice from Ohio Dominican University. She resides in Zanesville, Ohio, where she also serves as the Director of Faith Formation at Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.