When Saint James and Saint John, the Apostles of Christ, ask Jesus to honor their commitment with special seats in heaven Jesus said, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” (Mark 10.33-34) He said this to show the difference between how the world acts toward others as opposed to how God wants us to act toward others. We Christians are not supposed to desire seats of honor. We Christians are not supposed to want to be served by others. We Christians are supposed to serve others.
In the world, greatness is recognized with plaques, banners, and special seats. But in heaven greatness is recognized with service. What does it mean to serve? A servant places the needs and desires of his master as more important than his own desires and needs. A servant works to lift up his master rather than his own image among the people. For a Christian to be great, means the needs and desires of others are more important than our own needs and desires. It means we serve each other, not ourselves.
What does it mean to serve? For a Christian, serving others begins first and foremost with the desire to assist others to reach heaven. That is one reason the Church, together AS a Church, spends Great Lent assisting each other grow closer to God through increased prayer, fasting and caring for the poor. When we work together to reach heaven, it becomes easier to fight temptations. It becomes easier to patiently endure suffering. It becomes possible to carry our cross when others are helping. If we serve ourselves first, we are left to fight, suffer and struggle alone. You can’t be great and be alone. You can only be great when you serve others.
This year, we have been given an additional way to serve others. During the Coronavirus (COVID19) Pandemic, we are serving others when we stay home, avoid crowds, and quietly pray for the salvation of the world. Whether we find ourselves with or without work during this crisis, we can still pray for others.