The servanthood of Mary

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

IT’S worthwhile taking note of that detail in the gospel where Our Lady, upon learning that her cousin, Elizabeth, was also conceiving a son in her womb, immediately went to visit her to offer some help. (cfr. Lk 1,39-45)

The meeting of the two gave rise to the most wonderful expressions of praise and thanksgiving due to the tremendous blessings they received from God. “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,” Elizabeth exclaimed. And Mary responded with that classic Magnificat.

And yet, in spite of the great privileges they enjoyed, they never felt proud, vain or arrogant. On the contrary, their sense of humility and servanthood increased. This is a lesson that we all have to learn, since we cannot deny that despite our difficulties and problems in life, we too have been richly gifted with so many blessings and privileges in life.

Like Mary, we should grow in our sense of servanthood. We have to strengthen our conviction that to be a servant is a great honor. It is never a cause of shame or dishonor. It is a very special privilege, in fact. And the simple reason is that to be a servant is to be like Christ who expressly came to serve and not to be served! (cfr Mt 20,28) There can be no better dignity than that.

This is a truth of faith that we have to feel most at home with. We, all of us, are called to be servants, because if Christ is the “way, the truth, and the life” for us, then we have to assume his attitude of serving. That is what is proper to us. We therefore need to make some drastic adjustments in our understanding and attitude toward servanthood.

Of course, the object of our service is primarily God, just as Christ served and consummately obeyed the will of his Father till death. “Not my will but yours be done,” he said. (Lk 22,42) And he went through all the process of suffering and dying on the cross in obedience to his Father’s will and for our own salvation.

And then, secondarily and as an organic consequence of the primary object, all the others, including those who give trouble to us. We have to have a universal scope in our eagerness to serve. We should not discriminate against anyone. We have to serve all as they need to be served, that is, the way Christ served everyone.

Let’s remember that the privileges, favors and blessings we receive are meant to strengthen our desire to serve and not to be served. We have to be most wary when we happen to enjoy some privileged positions or status in life because we tend to think that we deserve more entitlements. And not only would we expect them. We may even demand them for us.

This, sad to say, seems to be a common phenomenon these days. It can affect everyone, of course, but it especially affects the young ones who appear to be more privileged than those in the previous generations because of the many new things they are learning and enjoying now. And they feel entitled.

We should banish this temptation as soon as it makes its appearance felt in us. On the contrary, we should follow the example of Christ who, in spite of who he was, just wanted to serve.

Let’s be like Mary who in spite of that tremendous privilege of being the Mother of God, quickly went to help her cousin Elizabeth.