AUGUST 23, 2008- EZECHIEL 43:1-7; MATTHEW 23:1-12

THE GREATEST AMONG YOU WILL BE THE ONE WHO SERVES THE REST. When our Lord set forth the principle that worth in the kingdom of God is measured by service, he gave a fresh meaning to life for all classes of society. No longer are the privileged of this world better situated than the poorest to make a success of their lives.

Whether the individual has advantage in riches, in health, in bodily strength, in beauty of form, or intelligence, such a person has only equal opportunity as the least endowed to  become a deserving member of Godís family. Obviously the scope for service of others, and its effectiveness in this world vary greatly according to a personís talents and place in society. But success and extent of outreach are not the standards Jesus uses to evaluate human worth. He made this point one day when he sat at the temple treasury watching people giving donations. Some who were relatively rich made generous donations, while a poor widow offered a penny. He used the incident to make an important point for the formation of his disciples: ďThis poor widow had put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury. . . . she has put in all she possessed, all she had to live on.Ē (Mark 12:41Ė44)  

 

We who are keenly conscious of our limitations are given great encouragement by our Lordís way of judging our worth. We repeatedly discover how little our best efforts achieve, even when expended in the best of causes. Again and again the resistance that people set up against our attempts to present the pure teaching of the Gospel discloses our  poverty of mind and heart. How unequal we are to the great task of evangelizing those we encounter in our work, in daily life. We know by experience how readily false values that pander to the desire for pleasure, influence, and honors corrupt weak human persons, and with what difficulty our best efforts attempt to counter the harm they give rise to. Our Lord not only taught that outward success is not the measure of worth, he also demonstrated by his example that failure, rejection, lack of recognition can be made the very stuff of true worth.

 

None of us is too weak, too poor, too insignificant in the eyes of others to follow in this path, marked out by Jesus himself. We can use such talents and opportunities as we have in the service of others for the sake of the kingdom, in the confidence that our efforts are precious in Godís sight. As a pledge that he lovingly accepts us in our lowliness, and validates our efforts to serve Him, the Father has given us his beloved Son who offers himself on this altar so that none of our service will be devoid of value for the heavenly city. G        

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger