May 13 – Memorial for Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fatima is the title given to the vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary that appeared before three shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting May 13, the Fatima holiday. The three children were Lucia Santos, and her cousins, siblings Jacintha and Francisco Marto.
The title ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’ is also sometimes used in reference to the same apparition, because the children related that the Lady in the apparition specifically identified herself as “the Lady of the Rosary”.
After a canonical enquiry, the visions of Fatima were officially declared ‘worthy of belief’ in October 1930 by Bishop of Leiria-Fatima.
“A servant is not greater than his master.”
I picked this verse from the Gospel passage to reflect on, as it reminded me of a hymn I love which we sing on Maundy Thursday during the washing of feet. The hymn is titled ‘As I Have Done For You’, and it opens with this chorus:
I, your Lord and master, now become your servant.
I who made the moon and stars, will kneel to wash your feet.
This is my commandment, to love as I have loved you.
Kneel to wash each other’s feet, as I have done for you.
When I turned to the Bible to read what Jesus had said to his disciples after he had washed their feet,
I realised that in John 13:16, Jesus shares this message “I tell you most solemnly, no servant is greater than his master…”, a reminder he then reiterates in John 15:18 – “Remember the words I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master.” This repeated reminder shows the import of Jesus’ message, which I understand to have three parts: He as the master, we are His servants, and we are not greater than Him.
Jesus the master: What kind of master is Jesus? He is far from the stereotypical master who uses a position of authority to lord over his subjects. His whole human life was about sacrifice. In terms of Jesus’ sacrifice, while we may first think of his sacrificial death, we must look deeper at his equally sacrificial life. His life was dedicated to giving himself to others. He went out to preach, heal, cast out demons, and comfort those who came to Him for help. He was not a master who came to be served, but to serve.
We are His servants: Having understood who Jesus is as a master, we then need to ask ourselves — are we His servants? What does it mean to be Jesus’ servant? First, a servant is one who voluntarily chooses to minister to the needs of others; this must be contrasted with a slave – someone taken against his will and forced to perform the master’s wishes. Are we actively choosing to follow Jesus, or do we feel forced to do so because we may have been born and raised as cradle Catholics? Second, are we truly serving Jesus as our master? I recall a sermon where the priest likened an ideal relationship between us and God to be one of a dog laying down at his master’s feet, ever ready to respond to the master’s command as soon as it was given. The bond between dog and master is like no other; the dog is the master’s companion, always along for the ride, no matter what ups and downs life brings. Is that how we treat our relationship with Jesus? Or do we serve other substitutes for Jesus in the form of wealth, pleasure, power, and honour?
We are not greater than our master: Finally, if we truly believe Jesus is our master and we are His servants, as Jesus has prepared us in this Gospel passage, following him wholeheartedly will lead us to experience rejection and even hate, just like He did. Perhaps in the times we feel the sacrifice and rejection are too heavy for us to bear, we can be reminded of the privilege of our calling to serve Jesus which is aptly put by preacher Charles H Spurgeon: “It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus. We are not to be living specimens of men in fine preservation, but living sacrifices, whose lot is to be consumed”.
Brothers and sisters, may we be encouraged to live out our calling to serve Jesus as our master, and take comfort in knowing that He is with us every step of the way.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stacey Fernandez)
Prayer: Jesus, I pray for the grace to truly be your servant and have a servant’s heart to live out my life in service of others, just like you.
Thanksgiving: Jesus, I thank you for calling me to be your servant and for being with me on this journey.
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