Servant-Minded Identity

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Tuesday of the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time


Luke 17:7-10

“Which of you, with a servant plowing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from the fields, ‘Come and have your meal at once’? Would he not be more likely to say, ‘Get my supper ready; fasten your belt and wait on me while I eat and drink. You yourself can eat and drink afterwards’? Must he be grateful to the servant for doing what he was told? So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, ‘We are useless servants: we have done no more than our duty.’”


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, make my heart more like yours. Grant me the heart of a true servant of God.


Encountering Christ:


  1. Servant of God: The Catholic Church uses the term “Servant of God” when someone’s case has been opened for possible canonization. and the Church is in the first steps of investigating the person’s life and works. The title is telling. These persons are not honored for his or her human achievements, as great as they may be. They are evaluated for their identity before God. Any holiness is primarily God’s doing, for only God is holy. We participate in his holiness through our life of virtue. To attribute holiness to one’s self is the very opposite of being a servant. It is an attempt to possess that which rightly belongs to the master.
  2. Attitude: Today’s culture decries anything that smacks of human rights violations, slavery included, and rightly so. But there is a difference between being a slave and being a servant. The former is imposed upon a person at the expense of one’s free choice. The latter can be a disposition of chosen service. It is a matter of attitude, a matter of the heart. In our duty and responsibilities, in our initiatives of noble endeavors, what is our attitude towards those we serve? Do we seek acknowledgement, reward, and our just due? Even if recompense is offered for one’s services, with what disposition is it received? Are we grateful to have had the opportunity to serve? Do we serve in light of our eternal goal? From what identity do we operate as we perform our daily duties? As a servant or as a master? As one who freely gives from the heart or as one who deserves to take?
  3. Useless Servants: Jesus invites us to understand our role, not to lower our self-esteem to the point of resigning ourselves. This seems like such a countercultural attitude, but the essence of the message is that we give what we have received. We participate in the work of our Creator and Redeemer. The great work of God is recapitulation: a bringing of all things under the reign of God. To effect this requires living in the truth, a humble standing in our true identity. We are God’s creation, made his children by baptism, and gifted to be able to participate in his life and work in this world. To do this, we seek to serve in a way that gives glory to God and assures that he reigns in the hearts of all.


Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, grant that I may recognize the tremendous gifts I have been given and not seek to be master of them, but to give them away to others. Help me be aware of my identity as a child of God and thus a servant of your great plan of salvation. Thank you for letting me participate as a useless servant in your saving work.


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will examine my attitude toward my daily duty and toward others that I am called to serve. I will strive to be grateful for the opportunities I have to be a useless servant, participating in your mission in the world.


For Further Reflection: Fr. Robert Barron on giving away the grace you’ve been given.


Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”

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