The example of Christ and the spirit of service


The life of Jesus is a tireless service -even material service- to people: he attends to them, teaches them, comforts them..., even to the point of giving his life. If we want to be his disciples, how can we not foster that disposition of heart that impels us to give ourselves constantly to those who are close to us?

On the last night before the Passion, Christ wanted to leave us a particularly significant example of how we should behave: while they were celebrating the Supper, the Lord got up, took off his cloak, took the towel and girded it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel he had girded on. He performed the task proper to the servants of the house. "Again he preached by example, by works. Before the disciples, who were arguing for reasons of pride and vainglory, Jesus bends down and gladly fulfills the office of a servant (...). I am moved by this gentleness of our Christ. For he does not say: if I am doing this, how much more should you do? He places himself on the same level, he does not coerce: he lovingly criticizes the lack of generosity of those men.

"As with the first twelve, the Lord can and does continually insinuate to us: exemplum dedi vobis (Jn 13:15), I have given you an example of humility. I have become a servant, so that you may know how to serve all men with a meek and humble heart" (Jn 13:15). We serve the Lord when we strive to be exemplary in the fulfillment of our duties, and when we strive to make known the teachings of the Church with clarity and courage in a world that is confused, ignorant and often mistaken on key points, including the natural law. In this situation, in which a good part of society finds itself, "the best service we can do to the Church and to humanity is to give doctrine".

The exercise of the profession must be understood not only as a means to earn what is necessary and to nobly develop one's own personality, but also as a service to society, a means to contribute to development and to the necessary well-being. Some professions constitute a direct service to people and offer a greater possibility of exercising a series of virtues that make the heart more generous and humble. The figure of Christ attending to those who approach him, washing the feet of the disciples..., should be a powerful stimulus to attend to those who, by professional duty, are entrusted to us.

Frequent meditation on the Lord's words - I have not come to be served, but to serve - will help us not to stop before those more troublesome - and sometimes more necessary - tasks: thus we will serve as He did. Family life is an excellent place to manifest this spirit of service in a multitude of details that will often go unnoticed, but which help to foster a pleasant and friendly coexistence, in which Christ is present. These small services - in which we try to go ahead - are also a constant exercise of charity, and a means to avoid becoming bourgeois and to grow in the life of union with God, if we do them for him. The Lord calls us on the occasion of the needs of others, particularly the sick, the elderly, and those who in some way are most destitute. These helps are particularly pleasing to the Lord when they are done with such humility and human refinement that they are hardly noticed, and do not ask to be rewarded.