Last. Who wants to be last? When I was in elementary school, I was not very athletic; well, that hasn’t changed much, to be honest. At any rate, when it was time for games in the schoolyard during recess (yes, I just aged myself), I was often picked last or very close to last. At home, it seemed I was also last because I was the oldest and could wait while my younger brothers and sister could not. Yet here I read the words of Jesus, the greatest, the first shall be last and the servant of all. And I think, servant, really? I have education, experience, knowledge – about our faith and the Church and and and.
So what? That’s what I hear the Holy Spirit say to me as well as, what is the point of what you know if you are not willing to do for others. Our example is Christ himself. For many years I worked in parish ministry. One of my foundational beliefs about asking others to serve in ministry was to not ask people to do something I was unwilling to do myself. In other words, if the kitchen needed to be cleaned and I didn’t watch the kitchen crew work, I helped clean. For me, there was no saying, “That’s not my job.” Now, compared to what Christ did for us, dying on a cross, I realize cleaning the kitchen is not the same. What is the same though, is the humility we are called to in life and in our vocation. While the circumstances of our life may change, we are always called to humility, called to serve, called to put ourselves last. And we are to do it out of love.
Now, you may think, “Why do I need to serve and be last, what about other people?” We are all called to serve in the way we are uniquely called and gifted. The ideal is for each of us to live out our unique calling with others who are doing the same so that what happens is we care for each other. No one person is asked to bear more than is reasonable. Yes, it is an ideal. Can it happen? Possibly with a shift in attitude and behavior. If we were to take Jesus’ words to heart and start living them out, it can happen. And of course, the first person to start is me. That is humility and service, putting the Gospel into practice. That is the way to live not lukewarm.