|Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor|
Jesus teaches the greatest paradox in our faith: "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."
This is not the teaching the world gives to us. It doesn’t make sense to most. Even people of faith have trouble grasping this truth.
Jesus teaches that in serving, relinquishing power, not holding onto control — even accepting or embracing suffering and rejection — one can discover the kingdom of God, spiritual power, greatness of life and "be first."
Many would say it is impossible to prove this paradox. It is precisely why it is a paradox — an apparent contradiction. One usually discovers its truth only as one lives it.
Christians and non-Christians alike have discovered and attempted to share this truth over the ages:
Mahatma Gandhi: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
Shirley Chisholm: "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth."
Bernard Meltzer: "Blessed are those who give without remembering. And blessed are those who take without forgetting."
Albert Schweitzer: "The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."
From the earliest of years, children argue and fight over who will be first in line. Some grow up and as adults still have never lost the lust for being first and most important.
When one lets go of this need, and most finally learn it in service to others, then one discovers the joy and peace that Jesus calls the "kingdom of God."
At St. Bernard, have innumerable opportunities to serve. Some include: Eucharistic ministry to the sick; all of the liturgical ministries; opportunities to give to and help the poor; donate food, donate money; donate time.
Jesus didn’t just speak it — he lived and died it.
My prayer is that all will discover this paradox by explicitly living it before this year expires.
"Find ourselves" — that is the hope of Jesus for each of us.
Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email email@example.com.