Today, the Church, in this Lenten time —inspired by the Holy Spirit— proposes a text where Jesus suggests to his disciples —and, accordingly, to all of us— a change in mentality. Today, Jesus changes the human and earthly mentality of his disciples and opens up a new horizon of understanding concerning a new style of life for his followers.
We have a natural tendency towards a desire to dominate or subjugate things and people, to command and to order, to have things done as per our wishes, to have others accept our status, our position. But, now, Jesus is proposing to us just the opposite: «Whoever wants to be more important in your group shall make himself your servant» (Mt 20:26-27). “Servant”, “slave”: we cannot just take these words at their face value!; we have heard them hundreds of times, sure, but now we must be able to assimilate the reality of what they actually mean, and confront it with our attitude and behavior.
The II Vatican Council asserts «that man achieves his prime of life through dedication and commitment to others». We may be under the impression we are giving away life, but, in fact, we are retrieving it. He who does not live to serve does not serve to live. And, in this attitude Christ should be our perfect model —Jesus is fully man—, inasmuch as «the Son of man has come, not to be served but to serve and to give his life to redeem many» (Mt 20:28).
To become a servant, a slave, as Jesus calls us upon, is something almost impossible for us. It falls short of our weak will: so we are to implore, to hope for and to profoundly wish these gifts are granted to us. Lent and its Lenten practices —fasting, charity and prayer— remind us that to receive these gifts we have to prepare ourselves adequately.