Jesus Our Shepherd
A God Willing To Serve
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (adapted)

I suggest there are some things we need to understand. If these things resonate in our hearts, we will be changed. The first thing I call your attention to is what happened at the Last Supper. It seems very strange, I think, that Jesus has just offered the bread and the wine, saying, “This is my body, given up for you. This is my blood, poured out for you.” Jesus is memorializing his death through these words, showing us how much he is willing to give for us. He lays down his whole life, his entire being.

Yet, how do his disciples react? What do they do? A couple of verses later Luke says they began to argue among themselves: “Who’s going to be the greatest? Which of us is really the one who is going to be next to him at his right hand in a position of power?” It seems so absurd, doesn’t it, that at the very same time Jesus is pouring out his very life for them, they’re arguing about who among them is to be the greatest! In John’s Gospel on Good Friday, we see Jesus dramatically showing the disciples who is the greatest. It’s not the one who has the highest place or the most power or the most prestige. It’s the one who is willing to serve. In John’s Gospel, Jesus does that very thing. He takes off his outer garment, puts a towel around himself and then goes before each disciple as a slave to wash their feet.

What an extraordinary example, and yet how many of us have really listened to these words and observed him in action so that we can follow his example – not seeking the highest place, not seeking a position of power, not wanting to dominate, but simply choosing to be the servant, the one who reaches out in love to give oneself to others?

Instead, it seems that our entire church continues to make distinctions based on status: Some people are in higher places than others. We make distinctions of power and prestige within the ranks of our clergy. We separate clergy and religious from laypeople instead of remembering we are all servant disciples of Jesus, equal in freedom and dignity. If only we would interact consistently with each other as Jesus did with his disciples at the Last Supper, our whole church would be transformed.