The Gospel according to Luke (17:7-10)
Jesus said to the Apostles:
“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
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.'”
These seem to be somewhat harsh words from Jesus, don’t they? It seems to be saying that if we only do what we are commanded, we should consider ourselves as not meeting the standard in some way, right? What does Jesus mean by these words?
In the past, I’ve been in positions of supervision, where I had to write “performance reviews” for employees who reported to me. I remember clearly the guidelines that my boss and our HR department gave me for doing these reviews: the majority of employees (so the majority of those I would be reviewing) would merit a “meets expectations” ranking. It did not mean that their work was substandard, or that they weren’t motivated. It just meant that they adequately performed the job for which they were hired. It’s not a bad thing, but that wording sounds a lot like what Jesus said in today’s Gospel.
It’s a reminder of how we ought to view our faith. If we have in our minds that our focus should only be on meeting the various rules of our faith (you know, like going to Mass on Sundays, abstaining from meat on Fridays in Lent, fasting on Ash Wednesday & Good Friday, and so on, just out of obligation), then we are missing the point. We are like those servants that Jesus spoke of who saw themselves as “unprofitable”. Why was that? Because they only did the minimum out of obligation, not out of thanks to the God who created them and who loved them.
Each of us should not view our lives of faith merely for how we kept the “obligations”. We should challenge ourselves to go beyond the “obligations” and to ask God to help us to live the example of Jesus by showing that same “radical love” that Jesus did. Let us love and forgive and give as much as we can. Doing so will have effects that we can never imagine, but it will result in the ultimate positive “performance review” from our Lord when we appear before Him to give an accounting of our lives and how we cared for His “least children”.
Action for the Day:
Ask yourself today: have I lived out my faith only out of obligation? If so, take time today to ask God to help you see how beloved you are, and how beloved everyone whom you meet is in God’s eyes. Then, ask God to give you the gift of being able to love like He does in some small way or some kind action.
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