Serve, Not Be Served

Saint Louise de Marillac

Serve, Not Be Served (cf Mt 20:28)


(Note 1)

“So it is that we cannot endure in others the vice that we have in ourselves; we are sufficiently keen sighted to levy reproof, but too blind for self-knowledge and self-correction.”  (Note 2)

“It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matt. 20:25-28)”  (Note 3)

“It means we must change our desire for power and search for ways to serve.  We show that we are his followers when we have begun to think like him, choosing service not honor, and act like him, not lording it over others but doing whatever it takes to make their lives better.”  (Note 4)

The largest human failing seems to be troubling our brother over the speck in his eye, ignoring our inability to really see it and help because our vision is blocked by the plank in our own eye (cf Mt 7:1-5).

Today’s readings and meditations are God’s call for us to serve our fellow man.  We are not to be his detractor, his judge or his lord, we are to be his servant.  It’s a very tough call, we see ourselves asking questions about hat every day:  should I give this panhandler money, he’s just going to buy alcohol with it; Should I give money to this homeless person, he’ll probably just buy drugs with it; and many others.  As Fr. Peter said, it should not be our concern what the panhandler on homeless person does with the charity we provided, our call is to provide the charity, our call is to pick them up, feed them, wash their feet, soothe them and help them carry on with love and with a blessing from God.

How many of us keep looking for more and more positions of temporal power?  We seek to become managers and bosses, not because we feel we can help more people or do more good in that position, but because we want the power, we want others to serve us, we want to feel important.  Power, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, especially when that power is used for the good of everyone and the person in power sees himself as being in that position to help people.  But, we all know the adage power corrupts.  Not only know it, we experience it daily, not only seeing it happen around us, but falling into the trap of power’s corruption ourselves.  We use our positions for personal gain or to punish our adversaries, or to force our will on people.  Sometimes we do it unwittingly and other times we do it intentionally.  either way, we’ve ceased serving others and serve ourselves.  We shackle ourselves to the punishment of receiving our glory here on earth, vice in heaven.  Given the options, I’d rather have my glory in the aeveternity vice my short mortal existence.

And, yes, I know I need to work on it.



1.  Bishop Robert Barron to Mailing List, “Lenten Gospel Reflection (03/15/2017)”, personal e-mail (15 March 2017).

2.  Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Lent, trans. Christopher O. Blum (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2013), 59.

3.  Bossuet, Meditations, 60.

4.  Steve Mueller, “Seek Service Not Status”  In Renewing Our Discipleship, Daily Reflections on the 2017 Lenten Readings for Mass, ed. Steve Mueller (St Louis, MO: All Saints Press, 2017), 15.


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