Jesus said to the Apostles: “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” (Luke 17:7-10)
Whoa! There is much going on in this parable and much that can be misconstrued. Yet, its truth can be a guide for how we approach our life and our relationship with God.
So, let’s quickly dispense with what it is not. This is not condoning servitude or, even worse, slavery. This is not a treatise on how we can earn our way to salvation. This is not about self-deprecation.
Jesus was training his Apostles in today’s gospel to serve him, in preparation for their mission ahead. There would be no rewards for what they would do, and he wanted them to know upfront, what they were facing. He used the example of a servant because it reflects the life and patterns of behavior in the Middle East during Jesus’ days on earth.
Jesus is teaching us something about discipleship. The focus of the parable is on how to follow and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Service of God and of neighbor is both a voluntary or free act and a sacred duty. One can volunteer for service or be compelled to do service for one’s country or one’s family when special needs arise. Similarly, God expects us to give him the worship and praise which is His due. What makes our offering pleasing to God is the love we express in the act of self-giving. True love is sacrificial, generous, and selfless.
How can we love others selflessly and unconditionally? Scripture tells us that God himself is love (1 John 4:16) – he is the author of life and the source of all true relationships of love and friendship. He created us in love for love, and he fills our hearts with the boundless love that gives whatever is good for the sake of another (Romans 5:5).
God honors the faithful servant who loves and serves others generously. He is ever ready to work in and through us for His glory. We must remember, however, that God can never be indebted to us. We have no claim on him. His love compels us to give him our best! We can never outmatch God in doing good and showing love. God loves us without measure. Our relationship with God is not one where we earn, deserve, or bargain for reward.
A disciple is a servant who serves the Lord out of love, duty, and loyalty to Him. Yes, you and I are to adopt the status of a servant. We are to serve one another with daily acts of love and selflessness. We are to serve one another to bring out the best in each other. We are asked to serve one another by building up, not tearing done. And we do so with a humility that comes from the fact that we are eternally grateful to our God for his salvation. We are eternally grateful that He gives us the opportunity to be a servant, We are eternally grateful for His ever abiding love of us. A love that says that each of us is His child and each of us is given the opportunity to be with Him eternally.
Yes, I am a servant to you because I serve Him. I serve Him in gratitude because there is no other love that is so encompassing. I serve Him because I seek to return His love in the manner in which I treat His other creations.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, fill my heart with love, gratitude and generosity. Make me a faithful and zealous servant for you. May I generously pour out my life in loving service for you and for others, just as you have so generously poured yourself out in love for me.”
We must ever remember that we are simply stewards, for a time, of the abilities and opportunities which the Lord gives to us, whose duty and privilege it is to work ceaselessly for our Master. And ‘privilege’ it most certainly is. There is no higher service.