Give thanks for special service to God

By | October 15, 2009

The Scriptures this Sunday focus on the role of service. In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah describes God’s servant who allows God’s will to be accomplished through him, even when this involves suffering. In the second reading, Jesus is the model of faithful service to God, giving his life for the ransom of many.

But it is in the Gospel that we hear the most direct lesson about service. Jesus reminds James and John that doing God’s will may involve some “dying to self,” and that the one who truly wants to do God’s will must become like Jesus who came not to be served, but to serve.

Each fall, parishes celebrate Catechetical Sunday to recognize people who teach and share faith with  students. Many also have “Stewardship Sunday” when parishioners are invited to place their time and talents at the service of the parish.

Each Sunday, a number of our parishioners offer special service to God and to us at Mass. We are greeted by ushers or ministers of hospitality. Besides providing a sense of welcome, they help us find open seating,  are attentive to ventilation needs, gather our gifts and direct us in the Communion procession.

We are aware of the ministry of our priests who have given their lives to God for the benefit of God’s people. They lead us in prayer, help us to understand and apply God’s Word in the homily and stand “in the person of Christ” who offers the perfect sacrifice to the Father. As leader of the faith community the priest has authority, but he exercises his role in a spirit of service.

Deacons provide special assistance in many parishes through their liturgical role of proclaiming the Gospel, preaching and assisting at the altar as well as by their outreach.

Just as ushers offer a sense of welcome, the choir, song-leader and musicians help us to recognize that we are not individuals who come to pray. We are an assembly — a community that gathers for worship. When we are surrounded by joyous sound and the harmony of many voices we know we are not alone. And even if we can’t sing well, cantors, choirs and musicians support us and enable us to raise our hearts and voices.

The lector coming from the midst of the assembly proclaims God’s Word reverently and in a way that enables us to hear the meaning of the text. This happens because of the reader’s skill, but also because he or she has prayed the Scriptures and spent time and energy practicing.

Servers or acolytes and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion assist with and enhance our experience of worship. The sacristan who cares for the vessels and vestments and prepares the things needed for liturgy, and the worship committee that designs the environment, chooses music and writes intercessions and introductions, all offer their gifts in service to God and to us.

This weekend, we might want to thank and pray for these people who so generously offer their time and skills to God and for our benefit.


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