To be exalted in the Body of Christ is to serve. We think of priests, deacons, and bishops as authority figures and “rulers” in liturgy and parish life, but this is not the core of Holy Orders. To rule in Christ’s name is to serve His People; to serve in God’s Name is a gift from God.
We see this all the way back in Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the Messiah as the embodiment of the people of Israel. God calls Israel to be not only His servant but also His “light to the nations”. God says “You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory.” The glory belongs to God, not to the servant. The light shines, not for its own sake, but to illuminate something else—to draw our attention to God.
Psalm 40 echoes this, from the perspective of the servant: “to do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!” It is an honor to serve at God’s altar. We who are clerics can judge our motivations by this beautiful Psalm. Am I, who have been blessed to be God’s priest, properly thankful for this chance to serve in God’s Name? Am I truly seeking to do God’s will, or my own?
In like manner, all the baptized can ask in their prayer: “Lord God, am I giving glory to Your Name or to my own? What can I do to serve You better or more joyfully?” Or more simply, we can echo this Sunday’s Psalm response: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.”