“Ambition” by definition means: an ardent desire for rank, fame or power; a desire to achieve a particular end; a desire for activity or exertion. When James and John ask Jesus for the right to sit at both His sides in glory, Jesus takes the ‘starch’ out of their ambition, and the ambition of the other Disciples for rank, fame and power, who are indignant that James and John thought of asking for an elevated place first… Jesus is very clear: there is no place for misplaced competition, for inflated self-importance; “for self-serving, power-hungry, would-be rulers.” (Quote from the Seasonal Missalette.) So the second and third definitions—not the first one—must be our motivation, our ambition and mission as believing Christians.
So, what is your ambition? What would your life—all our lives—be like if our first ambition was to please God in all things? What would change in our lives? Next week we hear that our faith has saved us; and in two weeks we hear God’s “Love Law” in Scripture. (Love God with all your being...and your neighbor.) Can you even imagine a world where people served each other and lived in faith and love? This is Jesus’ message, and, I think, and must be our true ambition. We are told again this week—like last weekend—to get our priorities straightened out. True ambition and our mission should reflect the wisdom and true treasure of the Kingdom: it is all about relationships; about the great moments in our lives that have meaning for our spirits. Today we are told to serve each other—an instruction from Jesus Christ himself—and this ‘serving’ is a recipe for successful relationships and Gospel living.
How can we not answer this call to serve? Discipleship must be lived out in homes, work places and our parish in many ways, and in many ministries (including the one I am responsible for: the Music Ministry). Our Church documents remind us all that although there are some particular Ministers of Music, all members of the body are called to sing! (I sometimes look around when announcing the hymns to see who bothers to pick up a hymnal…(is it Covid? Or some other reason to not participate?)
You can ask: why sing? Or even more, why join the Music Ministry? Our Church documents tell us that the liturgy, the mass, our Sunday worship, is “the great song of praise of God’s people.” This song forms us into the body of Christ. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) says singing together will “intensify the unity of the people.” This is mission! In the liturgy, the Music Ministry helps the Assembly to hear and to pray the Word of God; and so helps us all encounter Christ⎯the living song of God. We sing in thankfulness of God’s faithfulness. We sing that God’s mercy is greater than our sin; we sing that God’s love is stronger than death.
So, where, then, is the suffering servant part? For our St. Aidan musicians it means keeping the Thursday evening rehearsal commitment when it is easier to stay at home for some (or any) reason. It is wanting to sleep late and attend the 11:30 Mass, but you get up and go early because we are scheduled to sing the 9:30am Mass. It is letting our families know when planning gatherings and events that you are serious about this ministry commitment. It is singing for Christmas Midnight Mass (or the Easter Saturday Vigil) and then getting up the next morning to sing Mass again although your formal ‘obligation’ to attend Mass has already been fulfilled. Suffering and sacrifice mostly move together.
Of course, we all know this is obviously not the same suffering as what Christ endured for us! But it is serving the Community with your ability, your gifts; your time and talent and treasure—even when it is not convenient or easy. The funny thing is that while serving, you will find that you receive in turn: the satisfaction of helping someone; the joy of relationships in communities of work, service and love; the fulfillment of working in the ‘field of souls.’ And there are so many ministries in our parish from which to choose! This must be your ambition: to serve in all your life places regardless of difficulty. And if you do have the gift of a pleasant voice, however, and can sing in tune; and if you love music⎯and have the fortitude for hard work in service⎯consider signing up for the Music Ministry. Please come and see me. If not, please find another mission, then, but still: Keep singing! (At least from the pew…)
Just a Note: Some songs of mission…