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This Sunday’s Gospel reading is disturbing. After doing a lot of hard work and offering it for the glory of God, the last thing we want to hear from him is: “You’re an unprofitable servant.”
Think of how hard you work. Whether it’s at home or for a business or in ministry, we’re never rewarded enough, right? Instead, we’re given more work! At home, we try to relax after a busy day but one of the kids or an elderly relative needs help. On the job, we’re given more work because our colleagues are either too lazy or they’ve been laid off. In the parish, most of the work gets done by only 10 to 20% of the people.
Jesus says that our reaction to all this should be: “Lord, I’m an unworthy servant of your kingdom, because I’ve only done what’s expected of me.” Is he implying that it’s right to be burdened with more to do when we’re tired? Not at all! What he is telling us is that there’s a difference between doing what’s required out of mere obedience and volunteering to go the extra mile because we love and we care.
Resting is important. Jesus took time out to pray and to recover his energy. Delegating work to others is right, too, so that we don’t burn out. Jesus is the supreme example of a delegator who is also a servant. Balance is healthy and necessary.
When we stop short of going the extra mile, it’s usually because we have an unbalanced view of faith. Unaware that we’re serving Christ in our everyday tasks, and unaware that we’re serving others with Christ, we settle for a mediocre, half-hearted attitude. We limit our potential. And then we’re astonished that Jesus would suggest that we can command trees to cast themselves into the sea! When was the last time you saw that happen?
Here’s the connection between doing more than the minimum and having a supernatural faith: For both to occur, we have to know that God’s love is complete and unconditional and available all the time and that from this comes his desire to serve us. Knowing this, we’re confident that he can accomplish anything he wants in us and through us. If we care like he cares, we want to go the extra mile with him. And then when we get hurt or tired, he restores us. Do you believe that yet?
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St. Mary’s Catholic Church
812 Duke Street
Greensboro, NC 27401
Monday through Friday
9:30 AM – 2:30 PM