“Such is the case with the Son of Man Who has come, not to be served by others, but to serve, to give His own life as a ransom for the many.” —Matthew 20:28
Most people recognize they have an inner desire to serve others. Millions are serving the poor, the sick, children, the elderly, the homeless, etc. At Christmas time, many people are even more conscious of their need to serve.
However, service has a tendency to get out of hand. It feels good to serve, but it also hurts to serve. For example, Jeremiah was not only unappreciated for his service to God’s people; he was even “repaid with evil” (Jer 18:20). After Jesus challenged His apostles to become servants, He called them to become “the slaves of all” (Mt 20:27, our transl), even to giving their lives for others (Mt 20:28). Service gets out of our control and leads to a godly slavery and the cross of Calvary.
Therefore, although we have an inner desire to serve, we also have a strong inner desire not to serve, to draw the line to limit service, to abort service before we have to suffer and die to ourselves.
Will you drink of the cup (Mt 20:22) of crucified service-slavery? Will you let God’s love crucify your flesh and selfishness? (see Gal 5:24) With Jesus, come to serve (Mt 20:28). Come to the cross.
Prayer: Father, I will serve and not count the cost.
Promise: “The Son of Man…has come, not to be served by others, but to serve, to give His own life as a Ransom for the many.” —Mt 20:28
Praise: As a teenager, St. Casimir lived his faith by mortification, even sleeping on the ground.
From the treatise Against Heresies
by Saint Irenaeus [ 130 – 202 A.D. ] , bishop
From the beginning God created man out of his own generosity. He chose the patriarchs to give them salvation. He took his people in hand, teaching them, unteachable as they were, to follow him. He gave them prophets, accustoming man to bear his Spirit and to have communion with God on earth. He who stands in need of no one gave communion with himself to those who need him. Like an architect he outlined the plan of salvation to those who sought to please him. By his own hand he gave food in Egypt to those who did not see him. To those who were restless in the desert he gave a law perfectly suited to them. To those who entered the land of prosperity he gave a worthy inheritance. He killed the fatted calf for those who turned to him as Father, and clothed them with the finest garment. In so many ways he was training the human race to take part in the harmonious song of salvation.
For this reason John in the book of Revelation says: His voice was as the voice of many waters. The Spirit of God is indeed a multitude of waters, for the Father is rich and great. As the Word passed among all these people he provided help in generous measure for those who were obedient to him, by drawing up a law that was suitable and fitting for every circumstance.
He established a law for the people governing the construction of the tabernacle and the building of the temple, the choice of Levites, the sacrifices, the offerings, the rites of purification and the rest of what belonged to worship.
He himself needs none of these things. He is always filled with all that is good. Even before Moses existed he had within himself every fragrance of all that is pleasing. Yet he sought to teach his people, always ready though they were to return to their idols. Through many acts of indulgence he tried to prepare them for perseverance in his service. He kept calling them to what was primary by means of what was secondary, that is, through foreshadowings to the reality, through things of time to the things of eternity, through things of the flesh to the things of the spirit, through earthly things to the heavenly things. As he said to Moses: You will fashion all things according to the pattern that you saw on the mountain.
For forty days Moses was engaged in remembering the words of God, the heavenly patterns, the spiritual images, the foreshadowings of what was to come. Saint Paul says: They drank from the rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. After speaking of the things that are in the law he continues: All these things happened to them as symbols: they were written to instruct us, on whom the end of the ages has come.
Through foreshadowings of the future they were learning reverence for God and perseverance in his service. The law was therefore a school of instruction for them, and a prophecy of what was to come.
“Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord.” —Isaiah 1:18
In our secular humanistic culture, many people, even Christians, have unformed and deformed consciences. They have not been “trained by practice to distinguish good from evil” (Heb 5:14). “One sees in them men without conscience, without loyalty, without affection, without pity” (Rm 1:31). These people commit many serious sins, but do not feel guilty because they are so spiritually blinded and immature.
However, this condition of serious sin, minimal guilt, and undeveloped consciences will not last indefinitely. Reality finally sets in, and they come to realize that they have sinned grievously. At this point, the guilt that has been dammed up for years floods them. They feel more guilty in one week than they have in their whole lives. They feel doomed, hopeless, and hell-bound, when previously they hardly even thought about the existence of hell. Overwhelmed and nearly crushed by guilt (see Hos 14:2), they cry out to the Lord. He forgives, frees, and heals them by assuring them: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool” (Is 1:18).
There is hope and healing for the guilt-ridden. On Calvary, Jesus took our sins and guilt on Himself (Is 53:5-6). Therefore, we can be thoroughly washed from guilt and cleansed from sin (Ps 51:4). Thank You, Jesus.
Prayer: Father, may I go to Confession, be healed, and be totally freed from guilt this week.
Promise: “The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, but whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” —Mt 23:11-12
Praise: St. Katharine gave away millions to the poor and gave her life to Jesus as a religious sister.