Last Saturday, 28 June, God gifted the Community with four deacons. His Grace, the Archbishop, in his homily shared with us all what is the meaning of service: “Service is a style of life!”
Let me remind you of two vignettes from the Gospel of John:
1) from John 13: 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?”
à I’m sure you noticed that Jesus did not take off the towel around his waist after washing his disciples’ feet. Jesus is in a permanent syle of life of serving!
2) from John 19: 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. 28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
à He gave up his mother, who had given him birth as a human being; he gave up his beloved disciple, in whom he could have continued to live. In the very end, he gave up his spirit, his life … till the very end, Jesus “gives, gives gives”. Not only he gave up his life, but he also gave us his Spirit so that we can continue to live according to his lifestyle!
The desire to live a serving and giving lifestyle is not something we are born with. Humans are selfish by nature and the instinct to put our own needs above those of another is decidedly strong.
A serving lifestyle is a choice one must make every single day, to reach out to others and give beyond what is comfortable for us. It is a lifestyle, and in order to live such a lifestyle, our attitude must change every single day.
There is passion in serving others: passion as in Jesus’ on the cross, and passion as in urge and desire. We must become passionate about serving others, and have enough humility to see that without any help from others, we would not be where we are today. The most powerful person in the world – the President of the United States – needs a simple cook if he wishes to eat. We, whoever we are, cannot do without the garbage collectors! Things will turn up really rotten if they decided one day that there’s no more need for them. We are all dependent on each other in some way, and evidence suggests that the human race would have been unable to survive had it not been for some element of charity and social reciprocity.
The good news is that this compassionate attitude is teachable; we can learn a different way of being, and we can bring up our children to cherish these same values.
Clearly, compassion is something that we learn with time and experience; the seed is planted at home when we are still young, it is nurtured throughout our school years and then comes into fruition during our careers.
My advice to anyone who is looking to change their attitude and live a more meaningful lifestyle would just be to get out there and start doing something – anything, even if it’s small and seemingly insignificant in the face of all the evil and injustice in this world.
Even if you are only able to help just one person, it will be worth it, and the mark you leave on this earth will be a positive one.
Just take a few seconds everyday and take a positive decision to make a phonecall, smile to a person, say a good word to someone you consider not worthy of your time. Whatever you decide to do – because it is a positive decision; it does not come naturally – frame it in the two attidudes Jesus showed at the Last Supper and on the Cross:
1) I am in a permanent serving lifestyle, and
2) Jesus’ Spirit will see me through this act or that one, made out of love!
By Fr Paul Sciberras