Over the weekend, my wife and I attended a wedding at St Stephen’s Cathedral. During the ceremony, I reflected on my own marriage of what has been close to a decade now. During our Nuptial Mass, my wife and I sang to each other the hymn, “The Servant Song”. For me, the first line of the hymn has, and continues to be, the most profound: “Will you let me be your servant?” It was a question that Jesus offered to his disciples at the Last Supper. To sing it to one another was a nice sentiment at the time, but almost ten years later I cannot help but think of the subsequent challenge that has come with it. It is easy to say that we would like to serve, but when the time comes, are we prepared to follow through?
In this weekend’s Gospel, James and John are in the same predicament. They would like to sit on either side of Jesus in his glory. They tell Jesus that they will drink the cup that he drinks and share the Baptism that he shares. During Jesus’ passion, we hear that John – the beloved disciple is at the foot of the cross with Mary, the mother of James and John. However, James is not mentioned. Although James staunchly proclaimed the Good News and was the first to be martyred after Jesus’ resurrection, perhaps John’s presence and James’ absence is a reflection on the road less travelled.
This weekend might be a timely reminder for each one of us to consider what it means to be ‘great’ and what it means to ‘serve’. Are the two mutually exclusive? In a world where service is often seen as meek, how can we be an expression of the risen Christ who asks us to be a servant to all?