Going above and beyond call of duty
June 29, 2011 - Have you ever felt like nobody appreciates the work you do? If you have, then you're in the same boat as the servant in a parable found in the Bible.
The servant had been hard at work all day long plowing in the fields. When he came into the house, instead of receiving accolades, he received orders to start serving dinner. As if that weren't enough he was supposed to do so humbly, in a spirit of self-forgetfulness.
If this seems to be a hard teaching, we should remember that Jesus provides such parables so that we may learn the way to spiritual maturity. So what lesson can we learn from this?
When we follow the path of service to our neighbor, we should strive to be motivated by a pure love that is concerned about others' welfare. That sounds very idealistic because it is. However, idealistic doesn't always mean unrealistic.
The truth is that living selflessly is the key that opens us up to exceptional achievements. We bear within ourselves a call to greatness and this greatness is uncovered the more we strive to serve others. An example will help.
A little over a month ago the Navy SEALs made the headlines again. Their training is recognized as the hardest in the world. What type of individual makes it through SEAL training? The one with the biggest biceps? The best athlete? The ones with the most natural talent?
Not so, says Lt. Cmdr. Eric Greitens, a Navy SEAL himself.
He says: "Almost all the men who survived possessed one common quality. Even in great pain, faced with the test of their lives, they had the ability to step outside of their own pain, put aside their own fear and ask: How can I help the guy next to me? They had a heart large enough to think about others, to dedicate themselves to a higher purpose."
When we serve, we build up all those around us and in the process discover that we are capable of much more than we can imagine.
When we are humble servants we come to realize that it is better to give than to receive. We get a taste of what true greatness is all about.
There is one person who shows us this self-giving in a unique way: Jesus himself. He knows what it means to go above and beyond the call of duty. There was no obligation for him to become a defenseless child, yet he did so because he wanted us to be able to approach him.
There was no need for him to experience our limitations of hunger and tiredness, yet he did so because he wanted to bear our burdens. There was no law that said he must die on the cross, yet he did so because his love knows no limits.
When we compare our life to the Divine Master's we are compelled to say: "We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do."
Fr. Daniel Pajerski, LC, is Formation Director for Everest Collegiate High School and Academy.