February 19th 2007, 08:58 PM #1
OUR FEATURED MEMBER ARTICLE: The Gravity of Servanthood by Patroclus
"You can continue to fast, sleep on the ground, eat cinders, weep without ceasing. But if you are not useful to others, you are doing nothing worthwhile."
-St. John Chrysostom
To begin, I had been thinking today that, several months ago, after asking my priest for advice on where to start reading the scriptures, he suggested that I stick to the lectionary of the Church. This seemed like good advice, but I never really followed-up with that. Shortly after I posted my bulletin today, Lauren posted her very first comment on my page. It was, of course, this quotation from St. John and a brief comment: "yeah." Later in the evening, I was at a local coffee house doing some light reading when I saw two young men walk in with pocket Bibles, notebooks, and a contemporary-looking book. While they were away from their table, I noticed that the title of the work was, "The Jesus Creed." A little while later, I asked them about it, and they said that the book is about Jesus' recitation of the Shema and his addition, "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." We talked a bit about what the word "creed" means, and I suggested that it was probably not a great idea to apply the word "creed" to Jesus' recitation of the Shema, since it did not distinguish us from the Jews. I finished the conversation wondering why I got into it in the first place. Oh well.
I got home, and I really didn't have much to do, which I do not like. I remembered that I had not been reading the lectionary. So I decided to start. Of course, interestingly enough, the lectionary for the day is Matthew 22:35-46. The beginning of that passage is Jesus' recitation of the Shema.
St. John's statement, the first time I read it, troubled me. Am I really doing nothing worthwhile if I am not of use to people, even if I am trying very hard to serve God and prepare my heart to receive Him on a daily basis? However, I posted the quotation because servanthood has always been important to me. Today, though, I recognize the gravity of St. John's words.
St John the apostle says, "He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes" (1 John 2:9-11). He makes a direct relationship between our love for the brethren and our status as servants of God. Furthermore, Christ offers a compelling analogy to illustrate the necessity of loving mankind in his "I was in prison" parable (Matthew 25). To love and serve mankind is to worship God.
The young men that I spoke to tonight referred to Jesus' addition to the Shema as an innovation. However, rather than an innovation, it is an integral part of that first, great commandment. If we are not sure how to love God, we should love our neighbor.
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