Who among you would say to your servant coming in from the fields after plowing or tending sheep: ‘Go ahead and have your dinner?’ No, you tell him: ‘Prepare my dinner. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink; you can eat and drink afterwards.’ Do you thank this servant for doing what you told him to do? So for you. When you have done all that you have been told to do, you must say: ‘We are no more than servants; we have only done our duty.’“
Old priests and friars used to repeat the last words of the gospel of today: “We are useless servants; we have only done our duty” (Servi inutiles sumus; quod debuimus facere, fecimus). It is an expression of realistic humility. A servant has worked in fields or tended the flock according to his contract. His moment of resting will arrive later. First, he has to complete his service at the table of his master.
In our society, we are accustomed to receive awards and recompense after the lowest effort. The sense of duty is diminishing. The Lord presents another mind and practice that will lead us to the final true prize. Think of the strenuous work of Paul who told believers not to be a charge for the people to whom he was preaching the Gospel. For him, to evangelize was an order received by the Lord. He fulfilled it in a strict way. But he was also proud of adding his manual work together with that of the Christian couple, Aquila and Priscilla. The award he was looking for was really the “table of the Lord” but in the other life forever.
Let us retrieve the Christian sense of duty for free on this earth.
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