We remember the men and women who put their lives on the line for others…for us…in serving to defend the values we treasure: freedom to speak, worship, develop talents and follow dreams. These men and women were/are servants to a higher purpose and they would be the first ones to shun the title of “hero” , believing they were doing what they were called to do.
When we think of “servant,” images of Downton Abbey come to mind: a lower class of people working hard for little money to support the wealthy. Even in our own culture, people in service- oriented occupations work for low wages to serve the needs of others. In their own way, they are servants, making all of our lives much easier.
A “servant” has a rich and deep meaning in sacred scripture. The Suffering Servant of the prophet Isaiah is identified by Christians as Christ, who came to serve and not be served. Christ was the Servant of all servants and he us calling us who follow him to be servants to a higher purpose: to put our lives on the line for the gospel.
As believers, we ALL share in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ, sent into the world to be servants of gospel living.
And as today’s gospel parable reminds us, as servants we are to do what we are supposed to do as disciples and not expect rewards or titles as recompense. We are simply to say to ourselves that we are only doing what we are called to do as followers of Jesus. When all is said and done, when the talking and teaching are over…when we “shut up,” it is our actions as servants that catch God’s heart and love. Yes, our actions, in the end, are all that matter: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink…”
This quote from Matthew 25, which will be etched in the windows of our renovated church, is the foundation of the life of a servant.
Today’s feast of Martin of Tours celebrates a bishop of the fourth century who was a true servant. He welcomed people into his “residence ” and even washed their feet….literally!!!!! We priests and bishops need to imitate his example and not be concerned with titles or accolades but with being Servants of and for Christ. The essence of being an
Ordained priest is not to be a “bridegroom” mirroring Jesus as Bridegroom of his Bride, the Church.
This is a metaphor, a beautiful one, but a metaphor, nonetheless. Maybe the metaphor that needs to guide our theology of the ordained priesthood is the image and metaphor, of “servant. ”
A bridegroom, by necessity, must be a male; a servant can be male or female.
Just a thought ….
Buen camino. Padre.