Thursday 12 May 2022 – NO SLAVE IS GREATER THAN HIS MASTER

4th Week of Easter

1st Reading: Acts 13:13-25  

From Paphos, Paul and his companions set sail and arrived at Perga in Pamphylia.  But John left them and returned to Jerusalem.  They continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia.  On the sabbath they entered into the synagogue and took their seats.  After the reading of the law and the prophets, the synagogue officials sent word to them, “My brothers, if one of you has a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”  So Paul got up, motioned with his hand, and said, “Fellow children of Israel and you others who are God-fearing, listen.  The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and exalted the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt.  With uplifted arm he led them out, and for about forty years he put up with them in the desert.  When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance at the end of about four hundred and fifty years.  After these things he provided judges up to Samuel the prophet.  Then they asked for a king.  God gave them Saul, son of Kish, a man from the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.  Then he removed him and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.  From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.  John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.  Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’

Gospel: Jn 13:16-20 

When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.  I am not speaking of all of you.  I know those whom I have chosen.  But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled,  The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me. From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.  Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

NO SLAVE IS GREATER THAN HIS MASTER:  From today until the end of the month, we are going to listen to the farewell discourse of Jesus delivered during the last supper from the Gospel of John. It begins after the washing of the feet. And his first reflection is that he, who is the master of the band of disciples, has lowered himself to the position of a slave. Now when he goes on to speak about love and service, it is not just words, but it is something he has demonstrated by means of an example. As St Paul sings in his letter to the Philippians (Phil 2:5-11), Jesus humbled himself not only to be a slave, but he “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” The final discourse is a preparation towards that final kenosis (self-emptying), and an invitation for us to imitate.

Prayer: Lord, I cannot imitate you without your aid. I humbly surrender myself to your grace.

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IN JESUS STYLE: After having washed his disciples` feet, Jesus prevents them from thinking that it was just a mere rhetoric. Rather, he explained them clearly that since service is his way of being, that should always be the style and way of being in the Church. As the Son of Man “has not come to be served but to serve and give his life to redeem many” (Mk 10:45), everything in the Church is done in the style of Jesus. The whole community, the mutual relationships, and every ministry and minister are to be characterized by the attitude of service. When the Church, or an individual Christian, does not come out of himself/herself to serve others, he/she bends over herself, and becomes a counter witness. It becomes, as Pope Francis constantly repeats, a worldly Church. We often practice what Jesus told us to avoid: “The King rule over people as lords… but not so with you” (Lk 23:25). Following Jesus is an on-going process in which the disciple becomes conformed to Jesus, the man for others.

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SERVE GOD IN YOUR STATUS: One of the teachings of Buddha is that the cause of our suffering is the craving for things. Man is not satisfied with himself and what he has. Suffering can only end when we control our appetite and desire to possess. In normal circumstances, most teachers want their students to be better than them. Similarly, most parents wish that their children live better lives than them. However, due to human nature, when one does something more than others, we become proud. This is why Jesus reminds his followers of their status as slaves, servants and messengers. They are not to seek for their dignity or think too high of themselves. If their master and their sender does lowly actions, shouldn’t the slaves and the messengers do lowly tasks? As Christians we are called to wash each other’s feet.