“Behold, God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life.” Psalm 54:6
Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
by Sister Joseph Fennimore, OSB
Jesus’ words to his disciples, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all,” takes some deep pondering and thought to understand the real meaning of the passage. Being last is not the prominent place. The last place is the least recognized. It is the most exhausting place. It means seeing to others’ needs first and letting go of one’s own wishes over and over. It means accepting what is left and being less recognized. This seems to be a hard call but it is what Jesus went through. It is the acceptance of the cross, to which everyone is called.
This is what Jesus taught his disciples as they journeyed through Galilee and on to Jerusalem. Jesus described what would happen to him when he reached this city. He and his teachings would be rejected, his miracles and acts of love would be forgotten. He would be treated as a criminal in the worst way. His humiliation would be the greatest. This treatment of Jesus, the humiliated and rejected one, is reflected in the first reading for today from the Book of Wisdom.
We will never go through what Jesus went through but acceptance of our cross will mean that we too will go through struggles, hardships, and rejection at times in our lives. This is our means of salvation, our way to resurrection and the new life of heaven.
It takes a humble person to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to accept the cross he gives. But it can be done with his help given to us through the Spirit. It can be seen in the following examples. Parents many times give up something and take the last place for the growth of their children. Medical workers go beyond what their jobs require so that their patients will get better. Teachers consistently give of themselves so that their pupils will thrive and blossom. Living one’s vocation in the light of Jesus’ example is the achievement of humility.
From the Rule of St. Benedict
“Now, therefore, after ascending all these steps of humility, the monk will quickly arrive at that perfect love of God that casts out fear.” RB 7: 67
“God has called us through the Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Cf 2 Thessalonians 2:14