There is a saying that goes, “One cannot always be a hero, but one can always be a person.” Perhaps we have had our fantasies of being a hero. We have entertained images of ourselves rescuing somebody, shining forth above all others, being valiant and selfless, saving the day. In the midst of our dreaming, however, the path to heroism has been thwarted. Thoughts of heroism have given way to fear, insecurity, embarrassment or weakness. Another way of putting it is to say that we have returned to the reality of being our human selves.
In the Gospel at one point, the disciples of Jesus wanted to be heroes. James and John said to Jesus, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left (Mark 10:35-45).” In other words, let us be heroes with you, Jesus. Responding to their fantasy of being heroes, Jesus tells them that if they really want to be great, they must serve others. We learn from Jesus that the call of Christianity is not to be heroes. Our call is to be people of service.
An obstacle to being of service is the desire to be a hero and being frustrated or even feeling guilty that we are not. Jesus calls us to be of service out of our humanity, with its weaknesses and strengths. The Letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus is able to sympathize with our weakness, he has been tested in every way we are (Hebrews 4:14-16). He understands our limitations. We are to be of service anyway. In fact, it is generous to act from our limitations.
We are also to be of service out of our strengths. Everyone has something to offer, no matter how old or how young. We can offer prayer, money, time experience, skills, and expertise. Many people have access to resources like food, housing, clothing, employment opportunities, job training, financial counselling, medical services to name just a few. None of us can do it all and lots of us can do much.
One cannot always be a hero. With the grace of Jesus, one can always be of service.
Together in faith,
Fr. Tuyen Nguyen, Vice- Rector Fr. Christopher Smith, Rector