James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Today throughout the Catholic world we observe Mission Sunday—an annual reminder that the church is “on mission” across the globe. “On mission” certainly involves evangelization in areas where the gospel of Jesus and our Catholic tradition are only just becoming known. But Jesus also invites us to translate the words of the gospel into practical deeds of service. This involves that all-important missionary stance of sharing people’s lives, attending to their basic human needs, helping to organize their villages and neighborhoods as communities of firm faith and strong human solidarity.
It sometimes happens that the task of the missionary involves empowering people to stand up for basic family rights to land, education, housing, and medical access that are often denied or simply “unavailable” to those who are poor or considered marginal. In such situations missionaries may find their values discounted, their presence unwanted, their lives threatened. The catalogue of saints is filled with details of missionaries like these who gave their lives as witnesses to the gospel of Jesus and the communities they served.
So what about us? We are indeed “on mission” each and every day. For any of us, the mission of Jesus is all about living the gospel and serving one another’s needs. Like any savvy missionary, through the practical deeds of our daily living and praying, we show others the face of Jesus in our commitment to gospel living. Jesus doesn’t invite us to follow him so our faces can show up in stained glass windows. Rather, like the bread and wine we share each time we celebrate Eucharist, our lives will be broken open in compassion, in service, in all those quiet yet important ways we help the gospel words of Jesus come alive for one another.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Lord, let me trust in your provident care. Free me from fear of failure, sinfulness, indifference to you and your wishes for me. Give me insight to care for others and to serve rather than to be served. Let charity, compassion, hospitality, and concern be my gifts to those suffering from physical, emotional, or spiritual needs. Let my thoughts and deeds as well as my motivation be lived out for the greater glory of God.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team