The First Reading is from the third song of the Servant of Yhwh found in the book of Isaiah. Service is a theme of this liturgy, which links it to the theme of peace. After asking God to “give peace and to hear the prayers of your servant,” we pray that God will “show us how great is the call to serve, that we may share in the peace of Christ.”
The service that our faith calls for is genuine service, the actual performance of deeds that benefit those in need. James talks about this kind of service: what good is it, he asks, if we wish others well “but do not meet their bodily needs.”
The problem with commitment to genuine service of others is that it threatens the people of this world, who do not want to carry the burden of caring for people who have nothing to wear and no food for the day. The result is that those who work for peace in society by serving the needy must suffer.
Peter did not understand this principle at first, thinking that liberation could come without the need for suffering. Jesus has to correct him and teach him God’s standard: the Christian life of service amounts to carrying one’s cross in the footsteps of Jesus. The struggle for justice is no party!
Inspired by no earthly ambition, the Church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ Himself under the lead of the befriending Spirit. And Christ entered this world to give witness to the truth, to rescue and not to sit in judgment, to serve and not to be served.