May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be always acceptable to you O Lord, our God and our Creator. Amen.
At the heart of today’s gospel is a message which is absolutely key to our walk as Christians; is it greater to be a servant of Christ or His friend? This is much more than a question of mere semantics but instead is one that we must each answer for ourselves and one that will colour our walk with the Lord.
When I first took a quick glance at today’s gospel my mind was immediately drawn to the concept of servanthood; servanthood to the work of Christ? I sat and started to contemplate this question and my mind was immediately drawn to the many great saints of our Church, to Saint Dominic, Saint Francis, Saint Theresa of Calcutta and the many others who stand in God’s presence. As I contemplated I began to see that in each of their lives the calling to sainthood seemed to be a calling to servanthood; each of the saints that came to mind had given up all that they had to take up the cross of Christ and to serve Him, His people and the Church with all that they had. If that isn’t the calling of a devoted servant to Christ then what is?
At this point in my preparation I thought I had exactly what I was going to share with you today; the message that the calling to Christian perfection (sainthood/salvation) is the calling of every Christian and that as such we should all be devoted servants of God. However, I then sat down and re-read the Gospel and it was then that I realised there was a much greater question that needed to be answered before I could share this message; is the path to Christian perfection really servanthood or is it something far more sublime, friendship.
In the reading we heard today at Mass Christ seems to turn the obvious pattern of sainthood on its head! Despite the fact that the lives of the Saints seem to be lives of servanthood we are told that perfection is found in friendship; why is this?
Let’s for a moment where the word servant comes from; it finds its origins in the same place as the word slave. To be a servant is to be a slave and as anyone who has studied the history of the world knows very few have become slaves by choice! Instead slaves are taken by force and live a life of servanthood not out of devotion to their master but out of fear; is this the life that Christ wants His followers to have? Absolutely not and the Gospel today makes that very clear!
Instead of asking us to be His slaves Christ instructs us that He wants us to be his friends! The motives of a friend are far holier and purer that those of a servant; a friend acts out of love and devotion, an internal desire to do good for you. If we are friends of Christ in the purest sense then we will want to do as He commands and will walk the path that leads to salvation. In fact it is this friendship that Christ extended to us on the cross, that has motivated those saints that have appeared to act like servants, and that Christ asks of each of us now.
Will you look to Christ as your friend? Will you incline your heart towards the cross and accept the love that Christ has for you? It’s my greatest prayer that each and every one of us, in accepting the love and friendship of Christ, will be motivated to share that love with others and to act as true friends of Christ. If we do that each of us will come to love him with such devotion and total abandon that we will one day be counted amongst the great number of nameless saints who worship before the throne of God.
This week I ask that each of us contemplate what it means to be a friend of Christ and ask ourselves how we can reform out lives to better serve Christ, His people, and His Holy Church.
Let us pray:
Lord God, we thank you for the great gift of friendship that you have extended to us in your son Jesus Christ. We pray that we may always live lives that are worthy of Christ and of the great love He has for us. May you kindle in us a desire to always act out of friendship and in doing so may we walk closer to Christ and in a closer bond of love with our brothers and sisters. Help us to always be motivated by pure desires and to strive always to walk in the paths of holiness.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.