Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Memorial of Saint Josaphat, bishop and martyr

(Wisdom 2:23-3:9; Luke 17:7-10)

Although some people have poor self-images, most think of themselves as better than they actually are.  Some have exalted self-images.  Not long ago The Atlantic magazine published a story on Donald Trump showing that although certainly a multimillionaire, he is not as rich and successful as he claims to be.  Jesus tells his apostles in the gospel today that they must take care not to exaggerate their importance.

Jesus sounds almost ruthless as he warns against pride.  He says that his followers should not think that they are owed even a “thank you” for performing a good deed.  Rather they are to think of themselves only as workers doing their jobs, no more.  In fact, he says that they are to be so humble that they should consider themselves “unprofitable servants,” more tolerated by their master out of good will than really valuable to him.

Such self-effacement provides a needed corrective to most of our egos.  But we should not think of Jesus as a hard master.  In an earlier passage of this same gospel Jesus described himself as one day returning from a banquet and finding his servants at their posts.  He said that he will do what no other master would even think of: “’Amen, I say to you, he (really, I) will gird himself (myself), have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them'” (12:37).