Becoming a Servant

Written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from:

I thought of a story I heard once when I read in the gospel what Jesus has to say about the pride of the Scribes and Pharisees and how they twisted the teachings of Moses to build up their own importance. The story goes like this:

A Texas rancher met up with a Wisconsin dairy farmer.  The two began talking about their land and the milkman told the cattleman that he operated his business on 125 acres.  The Texan snickered at such a small piece of land and said, “Yankee, that’s nothing.  On my ranch I can get in my truck at sunrise and I won’t reach the fence line of my property until sunset.”  The dairy farmer replied, “Yeah, I used to have a truck like that.”

These men, like the Pharisees, wanted others to think that they had something special.  Jesus wasn’t faulting the Pharisees for their zeal for the things of God, but for focusing on legalism, not love. Jesus isn’t interested in how great we are, but how great others are as a result of our influence. And Jesus goes on to say if you want to be somebody, put others before yourself. We become great by becoming a servant.

For Vicki Night, one of our parishioners, becoming a servant took on a whole new meaning on Dec. 14, 2015.  That was the day her son, John Michael, a healthy 17-year-old senior at Trinity Preparatory School who had just signed his National Letter of Intent to play lacrosse at Mercer College, suffered a massive stroke while sitting in class.  This stroke left him unable to speak or move anything but his eyes.  To this day, John Michael is fighting back, and defying the odds through daily, rigorous physical therapy and rehab.  Through it all, his parents, and especially his mother, have given of themselves unselfishly to him.  Hard times emotionally and socially, long nights physically, difficult, repetitious rehabs, and all the unpleasant aspects of care, have been done with humbleness, faithfulness and loving service.  It has not been easy, and when Vicki was asked what has sustained her, she’s replied:  “My faith has always been important to me through some pretty tough times, but I can honestly say it has been my rock, anchor, my only hope when all the odds have been against John Michael.”  My John 3:16, p. 3

Vicki and John Michael have recently written a book sharing their story.  Through their voice and the voices of other family members and friends, one can’t help but be inspired by their heartfelt story of love, service, and gratitude. By the way, the name of her book, which I would highly recommend for reading, is My John 3:16.  She titled it that not only because Vicki came to know the Father’s love by sending his only Son to us, but because John Michael’s birthday is 3/16, which happens to be next week, March 16.  Happy Birthday, John Michael; we thank God for your life.

And how many others do we know personally who serve others so unselfishly for the long haul?  What opportunities are presented to us each day to serve someone in need?

Jesus humbly put us before Himself.  He served us by his life, suffering, and death.  We are his followers and called to be servants by our actions to others each day.  During this Lent, how are each of us answering Jesus’ call to loving, humble service, especially to the poor?

“The greatest among you must be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matt. 23:11-12