In the parable used in today’s Gospel we hear Jesus say, ‘We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.’ Duty, it is a word which we may associate with uniformed services like the emergency services or the military. People within these professions are taught about duty and the responsibilities associated with duty.
But as Christians, do we stop and consider what our duty is? For example, through our baptism, every Christian has a duty to evangelise. In his Apostolic Exhortation – ‘Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel’; Pope Francis states
In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptised whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith are agents of evangelisation, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelisation to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients.1
This means that every baptised person has a duty to share our faith with the people we meet. I discussed this with some parishioners recently only to be told by them that they had never realised that their Baptism meant this; that their faith was private to them and even though they had attended a Catholic school, they had never been told this.
This does not mean we have to get our bibles out and stand on the corner of the streets and preach; although some may have been chosen to do this. We are each called to share our faith in the way that God has called us. We all form the Body of Christ, and we all have our part to play. As St Teresa of Calcutta is reported to have said, ‘I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.’ Evangelising for most of us is doing what we do for the love of God and the love of our neighbour. When we help others, we should have no expectation of thanks or of being rewarded for helping. As Christians it is our duty to help, it is our duty to serve. By serving we are serving the Lord, by serving we allow people to see Jesus at work in this broken world as we are his hands and his feet today.
The parable we hear from Luke’s Gospel today is telling us that we need to continue to serve, even if we consider our work to be done. The Master will always need to be served; we are called to put our master’s work first. I know that for me, I can find inner conflict when I know there is a football match I want to watch when I know I really need to be getting on with preparation for something related to my ministry. At these times I can feel hard done to and have to really work to keep my mind on what I should be doing as opposed to what I would like to be doing. It is times like this I need to remember the words from St Paul’s letter to Timothy, which we hear today, ‘You have been trusted to look after something precious, guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.’ Each of us has been trusted with a faith that is so precious, we are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord.
I spoke earlier about duty, as Christians we have a duty to love and to care. But we also need to look at the motivation behind these actions, if we go along begrudgingly to do our duty, are we being Christian? As Christians doing our duty should bring us joy, because we are doing the Lord’s work. St Paul tells us elsewhere that ‘Each one should give as much as he has decided on his own initiative, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. God is perfectly able to enrich you with every grace, so that you always have enough for every conceivable need, and your resources overflow in all kinds of good work [2Cor 9:7-8]. So, while we have a duty to serve, we are called to serve with a good heart, and once we have decided to give; whether we are giving our time, our treasure or our talents; to keep the commitments we make with a good heart, because once we make a commitment then there is probably someone else depending on us.
Following Jesus, becoming intentional disciples, is a life of service, it involves putting others first. Fulfilling our duty lovingly, will inspire others to seek Jesus. Fulfilling our duty lovingly will help us to see Jesus in those we serve, just as seeing Jesus in those we serve will help us to fulfil our duty lovingly.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCC 153-165, 2087-2089: faith
CCC 84: the deposit of faith given to Church
CCC 91-93: the supernatural sense of faith
Please keep in your prayers this week
- The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help the people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Those in business who have the power to make decisions to help the poor.
- Politicians, that they may adopt an attitude of service to enable them to protect the most vulnerable people in our society.
1 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium- The Joy of the Gospel, (Catholic Truth Society, London,2013)63.