Thursday, March 24, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, March 23, 2011 (Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Wednesday, March 23, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

We hear in the Gospel about the mom of James and John, the Zebedee. She comes to Jesus, she wants greatness for her sons. That's a normal thing for a mom to want for her children. And she wants one to sit on his left and one on his right when he enters hie reign. Jesus says, "you don't know what you're asking," because his way is the way of the suffering servant. His definition of greatness is the one who is great among you will be one who is the servant.

Everyone of us needs to be aware of his or her own importance. The mother of James and John — the Zebedees — she was not expressing anything that was unloving, unwise or wrong. She wanted greatness for her children.

Far too many people in this world, I'm afraid, live with the illusion that they're not important at all, that they don't matter, that their lives are insignificant, don't count for anything. They've long ago decided that their lives are inconsequential, and, therefore, they do not know how to live. Few concepts are more morally degenerating than this. Much of the shawdy living that goes in our world, the irresponsible living, is done by people who have lost or who never had an awareness of their importance. Your life, my life, is of infinite value, loved by God, redeemed by Christ.

In today's Gospel reading, Jesus points the way that even the most ordinary among us can rise up to a level of greatness, and that's through a life of unnoticed, unheralded, simple deeds of service. It may be that no one will even know of it but God himself. And that doesn't matter, because we get up in the morning, we go to bed at night firmly convinced of our own importance because we have been of service this day, we've contributed to the well-being of another. You and I are involved in the most vital of all industries: helping people. And we can all do it in simple, small acts of service.

Some years ago, I heard a story about an American actor; I never heard his name before, his name was Charles Brookfield, and he was mistakenly reported to have died. He, thus, had the unusual privilege of reading his own obituary. Now somebody would say you check the obituary page in the morning to make sure that you're still alive? Someone also called it the Irish sports page. I don't know. But this man had the unusual experience of reading his own obituary, and there was one particular obit that he said he will always remember. He said it went like this, it said of him, "He was never a great actor; however, he was invaluable in small parts." Now, don't you love that? "Never a great actor, but invaluable in small parts." I can be that. You can be that. We can all be that.

Never make the mistake of thinking that we're unimportant. You and I are invaluable in small parts. There's work waiting for us to do; there's service available that will never be done unless you or I do it. That makes us a vital link, a important part of the eternal scheme of things and, according to Jesus' definition, gives us the opportunity for true greatness.

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