The Perspective of Justice

The Greatest Service

Today’s liturgy is about service. In the opening prayer we ask for “strength and joy in serving God as followers of Christ.” The First Reading is from the fourth servant song of Second Isaiah: the prophet sings of one who “gives his life as an offering” (First Reading). The Gospel is about disciples who want to be important. Jesus teaches them this lesson: “whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all” (Gospel). In the prayer over the gifts, we ask for the “freedom to serve you with

Our Lord and Master calls us to be a community of service. Our strength comes from following in the footsteps of this Master, who “has not come to be served but to serve.”

What is our service to the world? If all we do is affirm the world’s wisdom, what kind of service is that? After all, it is the wisdom of the world that has led us into the dark alleys of hatred, alienation, and killing. “It cannot be like that with you.” We must provide an alternative to the wisdom of the world: that is the greatest service we can offer.

The fundamental moral criterion for all economic decisions, policies, and institutions is this: They must be at the service of all people, especially the poor.

U.S. Bishops, Economic Justice for All, 1986: 24

The process of development and liberation takes concrete shape in the exercise of solidarity, that is to say in the love and service of neighbor, especially of the poorest.

Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 1987: 46

Gerald Darring

**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson