“If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.”

Mark 9:35

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Mark 9:30–37

Jesus invites us to be a servant of all. This invitation needs an explanation. The traditional understanding of a servant has overtones of a lack of freedom. Is Jesus saying that we are to bind ourselves in servitude to whoever we meet? Are we to do the bidding of any person we interact with, regardless of our own wishes and desires? 

These questions do not have quick and easy answers. On the one hand, modern psychology teaches us the necessity of boundaries. It also teaches us the value of self-esteem and counsels us not to subject ourselves to abusive relationships. Therefore, we should respect ourselves enough not to be a servant of all in the traditional sense. 

On the other hand, some of the most beautiful examples of human interaction involve self-sacrifice. To serve is not simply to subject ourselves to meaningless servitude. Service may involve acts of true love of another – in spite of any personal cost which these acts may incur. 

Perhaps today’s invitation is to pause and ask ourselves: how is God asking me to love today? Are there any things, in my freedom, that I would like to do to serve my neighbour? 

Loving God,

You invite us to love you with all our hearts, minds and strength. You also invite us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Give us the grace to love you completely and serve our neighbours with dignity and freedom..


Rev. Grant Tungay SJ

Fr Grant Tungay SJ is a lawyer by training, he left a career in law to join the Jesuits. He specialised in human rights law and has done volunteer work at the SA Human Rights Commission and also worked as an intern for the Centre of Applied Legal Studies at WITS. He worked at the Jesuit Institute South Africa for a few years in the area of social justice and is interested in the overlap between law, social justice and spirituality.

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