Jesus said to the twelve ‘If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all. …And ‘Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” With these words, Jesus in today’s gospel reading from the gospel of Saint Mark 9:30-37, emphasizes that service to God is of utmost importance in our call to discipleship and this call to service is centered on selflessness and peace as pointed out by Saint James 3:16-4:3 in today’s second reading. But we are reminded that this call to serve God can lead to rejection and condemnation as we heard from our first reading today from the book of Wisdom 2:12, 17-20.

So what are the characteristics of true Service to God? These are the characteristics of true service to God: Sincerity, Humility and Vulnerability.
Sincerity is the quality of being free from pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy. So in order to serve God, we have to be sincere in everything we do. We cannot be pretentious, deceitful and fake in our lives and serve God truthfully and faithfully. Ask yourself today, how sincere am I in my service to God?
Humility is the freedom from pride or arrogance and the quality or state of being humble. This virtue make us selfless and helps us focus always on God rather than on ourselves. In your service to and for God, are you putting God first or have you made your call to service about yourself?
Vulnerability means to have one's guard down, open to censure or criticism; assailable. Vulnerability makes us understand that without God we can do nothing and with Him, we can do anything. Do you see your vulnerability as a sign of weakness or a sign to manifest the power of God in your life?
My dear brothers and sisters, Pope Francis in his homily today stated that "greatness and success in God’s eyes are measured by service." So let us achieve our spiritual greatness and success by answering our call to service in going out into our world and faithfully, humbly and sincerely proclaiming and serving God. Amen!Today as Catholic Christians, the question of Jesus "Who do people say that I am?" seems to be a very important question to ask today especially with what is going on now in our world - lack of love, hate, racism, the cancel culture ideology, lack of respect for human life, empty churches, lack of reverence and respect for the Eucharist etc. We all know how the world perceives God, Jesus, Christianity, the Catholic Church, Religion and Christians today! So how are we going to change that perception and let the world know who Jesus is? And how are we going to know who Jesus is so as to share Him, proclaim Him, teach the world about Him? Jesus in the gospel reading gives us the answers to those questions. In order to know Jesus and preach Him to the world, we have to know who He is to us on a personal level, deepen our faith in Him through prayer and spiritual practices, deny ourselves which means letting it be about God and not about us as well as deny the world - things of the world, beliefs of the world, mentality of the world, take up our crosses that is our pain, our worries, our sorrows, our problems and our sufferings and follow Jesus always.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, remember the words of Saint James to us in today’s second reading from the Letter of Saint James 2:14-18 that "faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead," so let us put our faith in God into action by denying ourselves, taking up our crosses daily and following Christ. Amen!