( A commentary on John 13: 16-20)
When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me. From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (John 13:16-20)
Today’s scripture has several messages for us. But there is one that underscores every other one.
Jesus points out that anyone who accepts his disciples and messages, accepts both Jesus himself and the Father who sent him. There is a clear line of unity emanating from the Father going through the Son and passing through the disciple to others.
Speaking and acting for him means serving others. But, being a servant to others is not easy, because it means we have to be humble. It was not easy for Christ either, but he had a motivation: to love and save us. Serving is a blessing –– even in those situations when our passions flare up, and we would like to justify ourselves –– because we can love. Love transforms our world; it transforms hearts and allows the grace of God to touch the depths of the soul. If we have the love for souls as our motivation to serve, every opportunity we have to live as servants becomes a blessing, a blessing to live like the Master who came to serve and not be served and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Receiving, on the other hand, is difficult for most. For many people, receiving places us in an attitude of weakness. It emphasizes our dependency and it makes us feel indebted. Receiving shakes our pride in our self-sufficiency and in our success.
In fact, we are at times willing to deny our need rather than to accept something from another. How many times might a family member or friend say to us, “How are you doing? Is there something wrong? Do you need to talk?” and our response is, “No, I’m fine. I’m going to deal with this on my own.” How many times when we are sick or grieving will someone say, “Are you okay? Is there anything that I can do? Can I stop over and pay you a visit?” and our response is, “No, I’m OK. I don’t want to bother you.”
We find it so hard to ask for help, so hard to say, “Could you show me how to do this? I don’t understand. Could you stop over? I just need someone to talk to. Could I have a few dollars? I’m short this month.”
Jesus says that we must give to the least among us, but none of us want to be the least among us. We all want to be the givers. But, if everybody is a giver, then there will not be enough receivers to go around.
It is in our ability to honestly receive from another that we also have a chance to give. We give them the opportunity to be Christ like in responding to our needs. When we refuse to receive from others, we are denying them the opportunity of serving Christ himself.
There is a link between each of us as followers of Christ. That link consists of His love for each of us. That love is exhibited every day when we care enough to give and every day when we receive that blessing.
Humility lies behind both actions. He humbled himself to walk among others. We emulate that humility and walk in his love when we put our egos aside to both serve and receive.
Prayer of The Day
Eternal God, who are the light of the minds that know you, the joy of the hearts that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you; grant us so to know you, that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom, in Jesus our Lord. (Prayer of Saint Augustine)
Our needs and wants are part of who we are. And that is why we must not hide our scars from ourselves or others. They are the signs of healing. They are signs to remind us that that God has been faithful, that others have loved us, that our future can still be blessed—that we can move from death to resurrection.