Wednesday, February 24th – Danielle Vogt, Class of 2016
Gospel: MT 20:17-28
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, 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.”
A Bucket of Water
I was visiting my sister over Easter break last year when I witnessed one of the simplest, yet most profound acts of service on a college campus. At the time, she was a freshman at The University of Mississippi, “Ole Miss,” a public university located in the small town (16.5 square miles small) of Oxford, Mississippi. My sister had informed me when I arrived that a man had been walking around campus all throughout Holy Week proclaiming that anyone who sins goes to hell. Countless students had tried to explain to the man that we are all sinners by nature; however, we have the opportunity to go to heaven because God is a merciful God. He sacrificed His own son Jesus Christ so that we may live in perfect union with God forever.
On this particular Wednesday, the debate had persisted for several hours. Then, it happened. One of the students on campus decided to bring out his guitar and play Christian songs. Yes, you just read that correctly. He played and sang Christian songs in the middle of a public university. But what followed this one person’s initial action is truly unbelievable. Crowds of students joined in singing. They had decided since no words could help the relentless man understand God’s mercy, prayer could speak greater volumes. Singing is praying twice, isn’t it? In the midst of this public praising of God, another student came out with A Bucket of Water. He began washing everyone’s feet because he felt that Jesus would do the same. In fact, Jesus did wash the disciples feet the next day on Holy Thursday.
Jesus reminds us in this Gospel reading that “whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave” (Matthew 20: 26-27). God has given each of His children unique talents and gifts not to use for our own glory and pleasure, but instead to use to serve others in His name. Jesus himself came to serve and not to be served. He reminds His disciples of this when He washes their feet: “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:14-16).
As I reflected on today’s Gospel reading, I vividly remembered what had taken place on Ole Miss’ campus on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015. It’s no April Fool’s Joke that these students chose to live out Christ’s message of service and of “dying to self.” By uniting in song to praise our merciful Father and to reveal to the relentless man God’s undeserving love for each of us, these students denied themselves, took up Jesus’ cross, and followed Him. And the young man who brought out A Bucket of Water and began to wash everyone’s feet did so by answering one simple question: What Would Jesus Do? It is in these times when we are met with opposition that we are also challenged to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. We are challenged to serve Christ by serving others. Ultimately, we are challenged to walk with Christ, and by walking with Christ, we are never alone.
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