29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B): Gospel – Mark 10:35-45
“Whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all”
The Christian imperative to serve others is expressed in the Vatican II document Apostolicam Actuositatem (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity), which urges laypeople to “take up the renewal” of the world “as their own special obligation” (7).
The Council Fathers remind us that “charitable enterprises can and should reach out to all persons and all needs” —
Wherever there are people in need of food and drink, clothing, housing, medicine, employment, education; wherever men lack the facilities necessary for living a truly human life or are afflicted with serious distress or illness or suffer exile or imprisonment, there Christian charity should seek them out and find them, console them with great solicitude and help them with appropriate relief. This obligation is imposed above all upon every prosperous nation and person.
— Apostolicam Actuositatem, 8.
But our inspiration for serving others isn’t just philanthrophy or humanitarianism, as noble as those ideals are.
Rather, we serve because we are conformed to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who came down from heaven to redeem us as the Suffering Servant: “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
By giving of ourselves on behalf of others, we unite with Christ’s own self-emptying. The more we grow in union with Christ, the “greater” we become in holiness:
Since Christ, sent by the Father, is the source and origin of the whole apostolate of the Church, the success of the lay apostolate depends upon the laity’s living union with Christ…
— ibid., 4.
Question for reflection: How do I answer Jesus’ call to serve others?