Sunday Reflection | Whoever Serves Me Must Follow Me - Saint John's Seminary
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Sunday Reflection | Whoever Serves Me Must Follow Me

March 16, 2024

Whoever Serves Me Must Follow Me

Today we notice a modulation in the Church’s liturgy, as we round the final corner of this year’s Lent. In previous Sundays, we have focused on themes of temptation, repentance, and how Our Lord can transform our entire existence when we make more room for him in our lives. This week, Jesus speaks to us about the great days of redemption which we will soon commemorate during Holy Week, and He invites us to take our part in His own sacrifice of love.

The Collect, or opening prayer, from today’s Mass asks precisely for this grace. It says, “May we walk eagerly in that same charity with which, out of love for the world, your Son handed himself over to death.” But what does this mean?

First, Jesus recognized the machinations of his foes, the many ways in which they were seeking not only to trip him up but to manufacture a cause for arresting and killing him. How does Jesus respond to this? He doesn’t make a flashy show of destroying his enemies. He doesn’t descend to their level of action. Neither, however, does he relent in what he’s doing and beat a hasty retreat. Our Lord stayed faithful to his mission of proclaiming the truth about God because He loved all, even his enemies, and to speak the truth is a great act of love.

If we love others, we will likely find ourselves in a similar situation sooner or later. We’ll be faced with the decision to hush up or to speak a difficult truth to someone who may not want to hear it. If we value their well-being more than our own comfort, we don’t skirt the truth in our relationships, even if it means suffering ridicule or offense. It also means that we don’t disengage from people who challenge us and may be unpleasant. We don’t close ourselves off from others, even if they might have closed themselves off from us. This is what Jesus did, and this is what we ask God’s grace to enable us to do as well.

Second, Jesus shows us the depth of His love in that He is willing to suffer for those whom he loves, even to accepting suffering from their very hands. True love so transforms the heart that we more and more prize the good of another over our own. And this is a truth which every parent has experienced in the late nights, the early mornings, the shuttling back and forth from various events. When we love, our lives are no longer our own. But that’s a good thing. The sacrifices we make bind us to each other. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the ultimate expression of this, as He tells us that when he is lifted up, He will draw everyone to Himself. His death and resurrection become the bond between God and the human race. His love, expressed in self-surrender, becomes the source of life and love for all who are reborn in Baptism and become his disciples.

And this is what brings us to the Eucharist, which we offer at the altar. It is here that we make contact with Jesus. And in receiving His love in Holy Communion, we receive grace to love more like Him: To come away from Holy Mass changed, even if only a bit, for the better. To give a little more, to be slightly more patient, to listen, to reach out to someone who may be on the margins of our life and bring them in closer. May the reception of Christ’s Body and Blood indeed enable us to walk eagerly in that same charity with which, out of love for the world, Jesus Christ handed himself over to death.

Rev. Peter Stamm

Boston College, B.A., 2008

St. John’s Seminary, M.Div., 2015

I graduated from St. John's in 2015, and it's a real pleasure to return to the seminary
now as a member of the formation faculty. I spent the past five years at St. Joseph Parish in
Needham, MA, first as parochial vicar and then as administrator. This year I am teaching
Elementary Latin II, Introduction to Sacred Liturgy, and the Mass Practicum.

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