From the Pastor – October 17, 2021

“Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.  For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Mk 10:43-45)

Jesus presents us with a paradox in the Gospel today.  If we want to be great, we need to be a servant.  He turns earthly ideas of greatness on their head.

This paradox of Jesus reminds me of a story told to me by one of my professors in seminary, a famous author named Fr. John Fullenbach.  One summer, during a break in the university year, Father Fullenbach decided to spend some with working in Calcutta with Blessed Mother Teresa and her sisters.  On the first day he found himself walking with a sister through the worst slums of Calcutta looking for dying people.  As they were walking, a poor woman begged them to follow her, and she led them down an alley to her dying husband. Father Fullenbach bent down to help the dying man, and the man spit in his face.  Father Fullenbach was livid. Here he was a very famous author and university professor doing volunteer work to help the poor, and they weren’t even grateful! Despite his anger, Father Fullenbach cleaned the man and fed him. But he was still furious.

Later that day, Father witnessed a commotion where a young sister was trying to wash a 10 year-old girl. Because she was covered with sores, the water hurt her and made her angry. She kept hitting and splashing water at the sister. At that very moment, Mother Teresa entered the hospital and heard the commotion.  “Now we’ll see how a true ‘saint’ handles it,” Father Fullenbach cynically thought!

Mother Teresa walked over the girl and sent the sister to do other things. The child looked at Mother Teresa and started screaming and soaking her with the water from the bath. Mother just looked at her.  After a few minutes of looking, she walked slowly over to the girl, held out her arms and hugged her. The child collapsed in tears into her arms. After a long while, the young girl stopped crying. And then Mother Teresa began to sing to her, washing her sores with tenderness. Who was the real servant here? The one who feigned humility for the sake of satisfying some sort of perceived “duty,” or the one who saw herself as a slave for Jesus Christ.  We all have a long way to go, but holiness comes to those who desire it.  Desire it!

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty