Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today, we begin our solemn celebration of Easter with the first day of the Triduum. This evening, we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Part of that Mass is what is called the mandatum, the mandate. The mandate of which I write was the one that Jesus gave to His apostles to do as He did, to wash the feet of others.
The foot washing was a very humble thing that Jesus did. We will hear in song this evening at Mass: “Jesus, our teacher and our Lord stood to wash the feet of His disciples and He told them, ‘This is an example, just as I have done, so you must do.'” (“So You Must Do”, Marty Haugen) Jesus brought that concept to fulfillment in allowing Himself to be arrested, tried, convicted, and crucified.
His apostles did not see the foot washing as humble or humbling, they saw it as humiliating. They wanted to have no part of it. Jesus was insistent that they follow His example. There were to be humble in their approach to the world. There were to serve the needs of others. They were to make others feel appreciated and loved. In short, they were to go beyond themselves — at all cost — for the sake of others.
We may have asked ourselves during our Lenten journey, “Why am I doing all of this stuff? What does it matter?” Our Lenten sacrifices were making us ready to hear the mandate of Jesus. That mandate is, perhaps, the most difficult mandate we could receive in our lives. For we, as the apostles, often feel that service is beneath our dignity. We do not want to accept the call to serve.
When we think that way, we are failing to see Jesus in others. It would be so easy to serve if we would see Jesus instead of an enemy. But, truth be told, there are many people whom we dislike or judge unworthy of our attention and our service. We need to get past that. We need to see a brother or sister and not a stranger or enemy.
Sometimes, we tell ourselves that our service, our helping another person, is not going to have much of an effect. Yet, the only way to change the world is one person at a time. Lent has asked us to change ourselves so that we can see the needs of others and come to their aid. Anne Frank may have said it best for us: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Let us get out there and change the world today. It starts with that first person we help.
FAITH ACTION: Evaluate your opportunities to serve others and do some positive good for another today.