Wednesday, 29th Week in Ordinary Time
“Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so…”
The Greek word for ‘servant’ is doulos – and can be translated as either servant or slave. A doulos in Jesus’ time was more of a slave than a hired servant. Doulos implied a total ownership on the part of the master and called for complete obedience to the master’s will. A slave’s service was unconditional and his complete devotion was taken for granted.
By using this word, Luke is describing the service to which God calls us. In all circumstances – in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our parish community, at work or other groups – God wants us to contribute our time, energy and knowledge in a selfless way. He calls us to serve without complaint or reservation…lovingly looking beyond our own comfort and convenience to the needs of others and the concerns of the community. Jesus says, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
Humble service is the way of Christ, and should be the way of every one who seeks to follow him. As Jesus tells us in another gospel passage: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” A follower of Jesus must concentrate on helping and serving, and not on ordering or being helped or being served. What Jesus is telling us is this: If we are seeking for greatness in God’s kingdom, we must find it, not by being first, but by being last; not by being masters, but by being servants.
Certainly, this teaching is very hard for us to understand, and much less to accept, precisely because it runs counter to what the world teaches us. In a highly competitive society, in a world where ‘competition’ is a way of life, being “the last” and being “the servant” is considered to be a weakness. We are made to believe that for us to have our own ‘identity’ in this world we have to be ‘more’ than others – better, stronger, higher, richer, more powerful than others. And the only way we can be ‘more’ than others is to compete with them…to be the first and the greatest.
However, the Lord is telling us to make service our primary motive and our main reason for doing whatever we do. Kathleen Norris, in her book Amazing Grace, says, “Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others.”