Cultivating a Servant’s Heart
“Slander is worse than cannibalism.“ ~ Saint John Chrysostom
In today’s 1st Reading (Jeremiah 18:18-20) the prophet Jeremiah encounters an angry mob of Israelites, one intent on using his own words against him, to slander him, perhaps even put him to death if all else fails.
His message to them was one of repentance, and it was delivered out of love, yet the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem could only conjure up resentment for Jeremiah in their hearts, resorting to the previously aforementioned evil and underhanded tactics.
There certainly seems to be a lot of slander and false witness being tossed about in our world today, the political landscape naturally comes to mind when this topic is broached. But we too must remember to be impeccable with our words, being careful not to spread lies and misconceptions about others. “If slander be a snake,” Douglas William Jerrold once said, “it is a winged one, for it flies as well as it creeps.” There’s an old Hebrew Proverb that reminds us that “slander is more deadly than weapons; weapons wound from close range, slander hurts from a distance.“
In a day and age when information hurdles about far too quickly and perhaps at times rather recklessly, when it is far too easy to fire off hasty and half-baked Facebook Comments or Tweets, it’s worthwhile to reflect upon this in our own lives. I for one would relish a return to a far more civil discourse in our world.
But back to Jeremiah.
Jeremiah would not be the first nor certainly the last prophet to face the wrath of an unforgiving, bloodthirsty mob. A prophet far greater than he would of course go on to suffer an even more terrible fate, a fate we will commemorate precisely 30 days from now on Good Friday. Human nature, fallen and sinful, unfortunately does not change.
The Christian message is truly startlingly good news, almost unbelievable. God Himself came to Earth so that we can turn back to him by way of the example of the very life he lived, a life encapsulated perfectly in today’s Gospel (Matthew 20:17-28).
“The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life for many,” Jesus proclaims in the closing words of this passage. When we serve instead of demanding to be served, following in Jesus’ footsteps as it were, we give God the opening to shape our hearts so that we can better emulate his Son. We in essence usher in the kingdom of heaven, where God will be forever glorified (Revelation 15:4), because it is only through the fostering of a servant’s heart that we truly reflect God’s undying love to the people he has put in our lives, giving genuine witness to the Gospel.
“I am the light of the world says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.” ~ John 8:12
We adore you O Christ and we praise you; for by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.”