Deacon Tony reflects: A heart of service

During the week, we sat down to watch a TV programme called ‘Who do you think you are?’ For those who may not have heard of it, it invites celebrities to trace their family history and provides expert support to help them. This week it was the turn of a comedian, who I had never heard of, who was able to trace his family history back to King Edward I. Among his ancestors were courtiers who served royalty in various centuries. One of the historians explained that one of the roles as being highly desirable; which we found difficult to appreciate initially. The role involved accompanying the king to the toilet and waiting with them while they were there. The historian explained the reason this role was so desirable was that during these times the courtiers had exclusive access to the king and could advocate for various causes; often earning large sums of money from others who would eagerly pay them to advocate on their behalf.

Today we hear that James and John were looking to be the closest to Jesus once He had entered into His glory. Jesus reminds them of the path they must take and that there would be hardships to endure. They were both prepared to take them. But Jesus also emphasised that even He could not reallocate the places in Heaven, as these places had already been allotted.

The letter to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus became man and was tempted in every way that we were, but He did not sin. Contrast this with James and John in today’s Gospel reading; they show that human weakness of competitiveness; looking to use their influential friend to get a better seat at the banquet.

As we know and have heard; Jesus as the Son of God; came to serve and He expects us to serve too. He expected His Apostles to serve and to set that example and to serve one another. We in turn are called to serve one another. Jesus is again stating that what man sees as being great, in terms of material wealth, status and power is meaningless, unless those aspects are used for the benefit of others. The leader of a nation is in place to serve their people, not to serve themselves. A manager at work is there to serve the needs of those they manage; by doing that and allowing the people who work for them to thrive the business will flourish.

Being a leader is not about lording over the others it is about service. Sadly, we have all heard in the past few days about a public servant; who may have gone un-noticed by many; who was killed whilst serving his constituents. From the tributes paid to him, Sir David Amess, was a man who understood what it meant to serve. His service was based on his faith, and he was not afraid to speak up for the vulnerable, including the unborn.

Whatever one’s political views are, the world is a poorer place without people like Sir David. A fitting tribute to Sir David would be the defeat of the Assisted Dying Bill which goes before the House of Lords next week; we are all strongly encouraged to pray that this bill is defeated as it goes against one of the fundamentals of our beliefs that all life is precious from conception to a natural death.

As a younger man I used to describe myself as ‘an each’ way Catholic. For those not familiar with the expression, if you were to place a bet on a race and you were not certain that your choice would win, you could place a bet ‘each way’ which means that if it finishes second or third then you could also win your bet. So as an ‘each way’ Catholic, I was in effect hedging my bets, not certain about all of the teaching, but stayed close to it just in case it was true. The psalm today is telling us that we need to go ‘all in’. We are asking God to place His love on us as we place all of our trust in Him.

How can we demonstrate our trust in the Lord? Do we have a heart of service, or do we wait on others to do things for us?

Every one of us can serve God, if we do not have the physical energy to do things then we can pray for those who can. Accepting help when it is required is also accepting God’s plan as it allows someone else to serve.

Today is Mission Sunday, a day when every Parish throughout the world, including those in Missionary territories are asked to contribute to the work of Missionaries. The people who go out to work in Missionary territories have answered the call of the Gospel as they go out to serve. They do not look for plaudits, they do not make unrealistic demands; they work with what they have; they ask for our financial and prayerful support. Please be generous with both.

Further Reading

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)1

CCC 599-609: Christ’s redemptive death in the plan of salvation
CCC 520: Christ’s self-emptying as an example for us to imitate
CCC 467, 540, 1137: Christ the High Priest

Please keep in your prayers

  • All public servants: that they may be kept safe whilst serving their communities.
  • God’s creation, that mankind will become better stewards of this world which has been entrusted to us by God and that the Conference in Glasgow next month will be a first step to every country recognising and accepting their responsibilities towards protecting the world.
  • The people voting on the Assisted Dying Bill next Friday, may they be reminded of how precious every life is, as all life is created by God.
  • Those who are sick, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All Missionaries and the people they serve, may they get the financial, practical and prayer support they need.
  • The Year of the Eucharist, which has now started, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • The Metanoia programme, which continues on Monday (18th), for a Spirit led programme and all those attending.
  • A renewed love of praying the Rosary as we are now in the month dedicated to the Rosary.
  • The families continuing the Baptism Preparation Course this Sunday (17th).
  • The listening stage of the 16th Synod of Bishops which is entitled “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission” that all Catholics will take part.

1 Catechism of the Catholic Church (