The Gospel for October 2nd, 2016: “Saying of Faith” and “Attitude of a Servant”
Reflection: Humility is the Default Position for Faithfulness
As we cycle through the gospel of Luke, we find a series of short parables and analogies that provide instruction directly from Jesus in the faith. These are often followed by moments of summation that pithily speak volumes when preceded by this collection of spiritual nuggets. So it is with the quote at the end of this passage from Jesus in line 10:
“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.”
When we have done all we have been commanded by God to do, what do we want to say? I often say, “God, reward me.” Or, “God, I need a break now.” But Jesus is saying if you do that you fall back into self-love, which is missing the point. Instead, we need to recognize we have yet to do enough, that we are “unprofitable servants,” and that it is enough to serve, to do “what we were obliged to do.” The default position is humility so that God may use us to spread His unselfish love. We aren’t capable of loving others as God loves us when we are consumed by our own fears and desires. We aren’t capable of remaining in His unselfish love for all eternity. Our quest for sainthood is journey toward this kind of selflessness.
This is why we cannot forget the importance of Mary. Our knowledge of her from the scriptures tells us she always returned to the default position after serving the Lord. How else could a mother raise the Son of God who would save humanity through the most humiliating death imaginable in the ancient world? The temptation to keep her son for herself, to have Him live a long, mortal life would have been unbearable for any mother. But God chose Mary for her humility. From that came a sustaining faith at once both small in its simplicity and strong in its groundedness that she was able to see through her vocation first as Jesus’s mother and then as the mother of His church on Earth. Such faith is a mystery in human eyes, and yet makes possible the salvation of God’s people. Jesus says, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to [this] mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Faith like that is possible only in the default position of humility. May we seek that humility through God’s grace and increased service to His commands. May we experience the righteous power that moves life and renews it in ways we never thought possible.