“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded?So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Did you answer Jesus’ question, “Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded?” How did you answer? The question is meant to draw the answer ‘no’—No, you don’t give thanks. How does that sit with you? Does it leave you uneasy—with its talk of slaves and not thanking people for their service?
Additionally, the moral of the story is that you and I are to be like the slaves—we are to serve not on condition of receiving a gift. Is that attractive? Deflating?
Jesus was like the slaves. He is not asking us to do anything he did not himself do. Nor is Jesus asking us to do these things on our own. Jesus asks us to serve with him and like him. If you are drawn to this, then ask our Lord, in prayer, to choose you for the gift of this kind of humility in order that you may find your own life more patterned according to Jesus.
—Brad Held, S.J., a Jesuit of the Wisconsin province, is currently a theology student at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He has just come from 3 years of teaching at Red Cloud Indian School on the Holy Rosary Jesuit Mission in Pine Ridge, SD.
Lord, enfold me in the depths of your heart; and there hold me, refine, purge, and set me on fire. Raise me aloft until my own soul knows utter annihilation.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., in Hearts on Fire, ed. Michael Harter, S.J. © 2004, Institute of Jesuit Sources.