If you tilt at windmills, they will either crush you or cast you among the stars.” This is a quote attributed to Precious Javier, widow of the late Governor Evelio Javier of the province of Antique.
She was said to have given the statement in her response at the funeral Mass for Gov. Javier, who was brutally assassinated after the 1986 snap elections. He was one of the leading lights of the opposition then and was, in fact, regarded as a future President, in the mold of a Ramon Magsaysay, who was loved by the masses.
This is pretty much the message that one can glean from today’s Gospel, a “cost-benefit analysis” of living a Christian life or what we often refer to as Christian discipleship. Let us view this from the perspective of the founder, Christ.
We need to fully appreciate the context of this part of Christ’s story or journey. The opening lines tell us three important points.
One, Christ was leaving a safe territory (“left from there”) and was making his way to Jerusalem, where he knew he would face a hostile situation and eventually pay the price—death on a cross.
Two, he wanted to have quiet and private time with his disciples and “did not wish anyone to know” they were making their way to Jerusalem. This was so he would have time to prepare them not just for his death, but to understand and continue his mission.
Three, it seems Christ will make one last appeal to his betrayer by making him aware he knows “he will be handed over.”
In more contemporary language, I propose these equivalent qualities. Christ upholds the three qualities of one who wishes to be a servant: Get out of your comfort zone, mentor, and be astute. Let us reflect on each.
Getting out of our comfort zone is basic to service. Recall how Christ’s own service started with the mystery of the Incarnation, where he empties himself of his divinity and takes on human form. There is no greater example of getting out of one’s comfort zone than this.
He was consistent in his constant refusal to be treated as an earthly king or leader, given his early successes. He recast the framework of being the Messiah—again, getting out of the comfort zone of expectations safer and simpler to meet, because these did not align with being authentic and true to his mission.
Mentoring is another quality of service which says, “It is not about me, it us about the work that has to be done, the mission at hand.”
Christ chooses his team when he begins his mission (“You will be fishers of men”) and empowers them from the start.
He mentors them from the start by letting them feel and experience their core value to the mission. Just reread the call narratives of Peter, Nathaniel or Bartholomew, and Matthew.
They were unlikely men to be recruited, but because of how Christ saw into their hearts and connected them to their core value or gift, they become key players in the mission. This is mentoring at it most basic and finest.
Christ shows astuteness when he declares that he will be betrayed. Some scripture scholars say this was one final appeal to the betrayer. I think this was not so much out of fear or avoidance, but because of his innate and deep desire to save all, including the one who would betray him.
He wanted to show everyone in his company that he knew what he was up against and chose to meet this head-on, because it was necessary for him to complete his mission.
This is the Christian service we are called to.
I wanted to use Christian life or living, but I realized that Christian service is the more appropriate term because Christianity lived is always service.
“If you tilt at windmills, they will either crush you or cast you among the stars.” This is the “trouble” we get into when we decide to get out of our comfort zone and do the heroic, the groundbreaking, in order to make the world a little bit better.
As on the Cross, Christ was crushed, it was the only path to the Resurrection, the greatest star of all. Since then, he has inspired millions to make our world better by getting out of their comfort zone to serve and to love. —CONTRIBUTED