Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
JER 18:18-20/MT 20:17-28
Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)
Today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew should focus our attention on the Gospel call to be servants of one another. Saint Francis of Assisi might be helpful to determine how we can be servants, especially in this season of Lent. Saint Francis of Assisi wrote the Canticle of Creatures to give praise to God, our Creator, and the harmony of creation. After giving praise to the celestial world (sun, moon, and stars) and the terrestrial world with its four basic elements (earth, wind, fire, and water), Francis addresses humanity in a different tone:
Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love, and bear infirmity and tribulation. Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.
Francis states what he believes a servant is according to his own reading of the Gospels. First, they are servants when they are persons of mercy because they have first received mercy from God.
Secondly, the Gospel calls us to not only bear infirmity and tribulation in our own lives but also be with those who are suffering. The highest level of love is compassionate love, which means being present to those who suffer. We suffer with them. For Francis, the suffering meant people of little value and those who are looked down upon, the poor, the powerless, the sick, the lepers, and the beggars by the wayside.
Thirdly, enduring in peace means to seek reconciliation and forgiveness not only from those you love, but also from your enemies.
As we journey through Lent, we are reminded on this day of our own call to be servants according to the Gospels, which means that we are to toil on being persons of mercy, compassion, and peace.
Fr. Steven McMichael, OFM Conv.
Associate Professor and Director of Encountering Islam Program