Jesus summoned the twelve and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mk 10:42-45
We all want to be happy, yet the source of happiness itself can be elusive. As a priest, I find myself in discussions with folks about the true nature of happiness. What I have discovered in conversation is that we instinctively think that happiness is the result of success. Happiness happens when we plan, work hard, and accomplish our goals: “I will be happy when I get a new job.” “I will be happy when I meet the person of my dreams.” “I will be happy when I am recognized for my achievements.” In all such scenarios, happiness is the result of what I get; the effect of future endeavor. And yet, both social science and experience reveal that this thinking is backwards. Happiness is not the result of success, but rather success is rooted in happiness. The reason for this is that the source of happiness is not in what we get, but in how and what we give. Studies reveal that the common ingredients in the recipe of happiness include gratitude for blessings, recognizing our natural talents and gifts, and reaching out to share these with others. Happiness flows from an attitude of joy stemming from how we connect and give to others.
In the Gospel this weekend, Jesus intervenes in the disciples’ heated debate following James and John’s request for positions of honor in the Kingdom of God. Jesus reminds them that, though they have given up pleasure and wealth to follow Him, the goals of honor and recognition still tempt as sources of happiness. In response to the allure of this illusion, Jesus articulates a different vision for healthy living: whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. Service is not merely a duty or responsibility of the disciple, but is the spring of living well. For this reason, Jesus identifies his mission in terms of personal service, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Being of service to others is not something Jesus does, but is at the heart of who he is. The joy of Jesus’ saving words and deeds radiates from his servant’s heart.
Like the disciples, we are called to cultivate an attitude of service. As a community of faith, St. Dominic’s is that place from which we are sent to meet the needs around us with the joy in our lives. One way we might rekindle this sense of our mission to joyful service is to join us in as we launch 800 years of Dominican preaching at our Jubilee Conference Day on November 7. The theme of the day will be “Radiating the Joy of the Gospel in the Heart of the City.” The day begins at 9:00 a. m. with hospitality and prayer, followed by the keynote address by Fr. Michael Sweeney, who is the co-founder of the Catherine of Siena Institute, which has enhanced our own parish through such programs as the Called and Gifted workshop and Intentional Disciples. Throughout the day there will be workshops and breakout sessions for all ages, and speakers include Fr Xavier and some of the talent behind the character Joy in the movie, “Inside Out.” Adoration and confessions will be available throughout the day and lunch will be provided. (For this reason, registration for this unique event is required and available in the office or at our website.) The day concludes with a personal Rite of Blessing and Commission before sending folks out to specific service activities. The hope in creating this unique day is to reinvigorate our sense of living and sharing our faith, so that we might happily radiate the joy of the Gospel for all to see.
~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.