J.M.J. Through His life-giving words and actions, Jesus taught the abiding value of service. He often reminded His listeners of the crucial importance of willing and prompt service of God and neighbor.
A close examination reveals that the service to which Our Blessed Lord referred was not just any kind of service. Rather, what He insisted on was "disinterested," that is, selfless service. Hypothetically, one could "serve" the Creator and his fellow creatures but be so wrapped up in the potential reward he may receive for his efforts. While this may be a kind of doing good, it isn't the same thing that Christ came to earth to show and exhort us to imitate.
The selfless service rendered by the Redeemer to His Heavenly Father and to each of us is to become our sole pattern. This service entrusts to the Lord our own fate. Would that we might serve the Lord and each member of the human race with the zest, perseverance, humble confidence in His Beloved Father and utter selflessness that marked the life of the Messiah!
It is reward enough for us to realize that our disinterested service is pleasing to God and is His plan for us. This is our recompense. Yet, we also acknowledge--thanks especially to the pledges present in the New Testament--that one who really does serve the Master and His people will not lack for a reward. Everlasting life with the Almighty, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels and the Saints in Heaven is promised to those who spend themselves in authentic service while not counting the cost.
Selfless service is not always easy. We become tired. We may feel as though we are unprepared to perform the specific task that God desires of us. We may be inclined to become agitated at those who don't cooperate or who even oppose our endeavors. We may find ourselves burdened servants while our neighbors seem oblivious to all that remains to be accomplished for the glory and honor of God and the salvation of souls.
We must, above all when tempted, frequently recall the Good Shepherd. His loving service excluded all brooding, self-pity, hopelessness and anger. His was the way of peaceful service. He knew better than any that some would seek to stop Him, others would accuse Him of less-than-upright behavior. But His generous service continued unabated. He didn't let respect for persons or fear of their unfair and malicious gossip keep Him from achieving all that His Father wanted.
Is my service for me? Or is it for the Lord and His sons and daughters? The Church holds up thousands of canonized Saints who cheerfully and selflessly served as God directed them as models of that disinterested service that is rooted in the Holy Gospels. These witnesses followed the high standard set by the Son of God and obtained the unsurpassed fruit of their labors: unceasing joy in the Kingdom of God.
A familiar hymn begins: "Lord, make us true servants to serve those in need." To serve selflessly the Risen Lord Jesus is to serve disinterestedly His--and our--brothers and sisters. Such Christ-like service is guaranteed the prize of Paradise. It is ours for the taking.
Mother undefiled, pray for us.
(From The Catholic Servant, July 2000, page nine. Used with permission.)
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Blessings upon Pope Francis on his Second Anniversary as the Bishop of Rome and upon the Reverend Shaun T. Haggerty as he celebrates his Birthday.