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Now Is The Time

If anyone wishes to rank first, he must remain the last one of all and the servant of all
Mark 9:30-37

Sermon Topic Servanthood

Sermon Week Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B

Scripture Summary Mark 9:35


Several critics have called the Japanese motion picture, "Ikiru," the greatest film ever made. "Ikiru" is the story of an old man's struggle to attach meaning to his life after learning that he has cancer and only six months to live. This causes him to reflect on his uneventful life as a minor city hall bureaucrat. The realization that he has made no significant contribution to his fellow man troubles him spiritually. And, despite his weakened condition, he resolves to do something for other people before he dies. With all his remaining energy he gets behind a playground project which has had one obstacle after another thrown in its path by the local bureaucracy. As the result of his efforts, the playground is finally completed and the neighborhood children are presented with their new paradise. The experience transforms the stuffy old ex-bureaucrat into a warm and compassionate human being.

The movie's touching finale illustrates with great power the depth of meaning contained in Jesus' words in today's Gospel Lesson. The old man is seen contentedly seated on one of the new playground's swings, slowly moving back and forth and softly humming a tune. There, peacefully, he dies. The symbolism is clear. Only by rendering service to others with a warm and compassionate heart, only by assigning priority in human relations to "What can I give?" over 'What can I get?" do we realize our potential as children of God. The childish posture of the old man on the children's swing symbolizes the child-like spirit which enables him to die in peace.

"If anyone wishes to rank first," Jesus says to His disciples, "he must remain the last one of all and the servant of all." Having said this, Mark tells us, Jesus then "took a little child ... and putting His arms around him, said to them, 'Whoever welcomes a child such as this for My sake welcomes Me. And whoever welcomes Me welcomes, not Me, but Him who sent Me' "(Mk.9:35-37).

Several years ago, singer Tony Bennett popularized a song entitled, "This Is All I Ask." The lyrics are [...]

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