Sunday, October 3, 2010

What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God

There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation - Margaret Thatcher

Gospel text (Lk 17:5-10): The apostles said to the Lord, «Increase our faith». And the Lord said, «If you have faith even the size of a mustard seed, you may say to this tree: ‘Be uprooted and plant yourself in the sea’, and it will obey you.

»Who among you would say to your servant coming in from the fields after plowing or tending sheep: ‘Come at once and sit down at table?’. No, you tell him: ‘Prepare my dinner. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink; you can eat and drink afterwards’. Do you thank this servant for doing what you commanded? So for you. When you have done all that you have been told to do, you must say: ‘We are no more than servants; we have only done our duty’».

Today, Christ's message is once more about service. The Gospel is always insisting upon the spirit of service. And it helps to see how the Verb of God Incarnate —Yahweh's, Isaiah's servant— «took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient» (Phil 2:2-7). Christ also said: «But I am in the midst of you as one who serves» (Lk 22:27), as «the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many» (Mt 20:28). Jesus' example was clearly apparent when He washed his disciples' feet, thus accomplishing a servant's task. With that gesture He wanted to make quite evident that his followers were to serve, help and love each other, as brothers and servers to all, as He proposes in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

We have to live all our Christian life with that sense of service and without believing we are doing anything extraordinary. All our family, professional and social life —in the political, economical world, etc.— has to be imbibed by this spirit. «To serve, to serve», asserted St. Josemaría Escrivá; he wanted us to understand that “to be useful” we have to live a life of generous service without seeking honors, human glory or applause.

This could be kind of a picture of heaven then. We come in from doing our field and flock works and we can expect that God is so grateful that we are invited, because of our works, to get good seats at the heavenly banquet. We do not deserve heaven. Jesus took away the necessity of our achieving heaven by our works. The work of Jesus, who took upon Him the role of slave and servant, announces more clearly than ever that we too are “unprofitable servants” who are not entitled, but titled, honored and made worthy by the Master’s act of being Servant.

What is violent to our egos is that we are invited to remember who we are, served-servants. All that we do are gestures of loving gratitude. We don’t earn, accomplish, or get heaven except as the gift of a loving and saving Servant Himself.

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