Becoming a Servant, Becoming a Disciple

Week of October 18, 2015

In an address to the Bishops in Philadelphia on his visit to America, Pope Francis used an example of the difference between the old neighborhood store and the large supermarket. At a time when neighborhood stores flourished, the relationship was based on trust. It was not about clever displays of a lot of choices, but it had what one needed.  It was a business based on trust.  The large store, the supermarket, was completely different. Long gone was the trust and the close relationship with its owners. Instead, it was based on great selection of merchandise and competition of price. This has brought us to a pervasive sense of consumerism, and a society in which social media allows us to friend a person we don’t even know and to post something so that we can get a lot of “likes”.  Today’s consumerism rotates from relationships to friendships to what is important. Even the news outlets will state what is trending right now.

The Gospel invites us to a world that is counter cultural. It invites us to a world that is about being a servant. A servant is not a consumer, but is one who serves. Jesus invites us to a radical discipleship that is far from consumerism. To follow Jesus, one must take up the cross.  To follow Jesus one must be a servant of all.  To be a disciple, one must lay down one’s life for another.  Sadly, our society struggles with radical discipleship.  Radical discipleship speaks of consumerism that leads us to a food pantry, a prison or a neighbor in need. Radical discipleship speaks of simplicity that is more powerful than what is currently trending.  Radical discipleship speaks of the wisdom that when I am lost, I am found; that anyone who loses their life will save it.  All of the powerful words of Jesus lead us in a different direction.

May the words of Jesus dwell in our hearts.

Rev. John J. Ouper