The Last Supper Discourse
I remember when I was still a college student, we took a Zoology subject. Our teacher explained first the theory of a particular knowledge before we went into the laboratory for the actual experiment of a specimen to prove her point. However, in today’s gospel, Jesus who is the Greatest Teacher reverses the order in giving lectures and teaching. He first washes the feet of His disciples and then teaches them on Christian service. He serves them first and then only afterwards, gives them a lecture on how to serve.
Jesus teaches us to serve others because He himself came into this world to serve and not to be served. Somebody said that He expects us to be humble even as we serve because humility is the trademark of His own service.
A. T. Wrote defines service like this: “Whatever is done for God, without respect of its comparative character as related to other acts, is service, and only that is service. Service is, comprehensively speaking, doing the will of God. He is the object. All is for Him, for His sake, as unto the Lord, not as unto man. Hence, even the humblest act of humblest disciple acquires a certain divine quality by its being done with reference to Him. The supreme test of service is this: ‘For whom am I doing this?’ Much that we call service to Christ is not such at all….If we are doing this for Christ, we shall not care for human reward or even recognition. Our work must again be tested by three propositions: Is it work from God, as given us to do from Him; for God, as finding in Him its secret of power; and with God, as only a part of His work in which we engage as co-workers with Him.”
And also Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, put together a brief comparison of the characteristics of service that is focused more upon ourselves and service that is focused more upon Christ (or a Comparison between Self-righteous Service and True Service). In paraphrased form, it becomes a self-help test worth taking. He said that:
Self-focused service is concerned with impressive gains. It enjoys serving when the service is titanic or growing in that direction. Christ-focused service doesn’t distinguish between small and large. It indiscriminately welcomes all opportunities to serve.
Self-focused service requires external reward, appreciation, and applause. Christ-focused service rests content in hiddenness. The divine nod of approval is sufficient.
Self-focused service is highly concerned about results. It becomes disillusioned when results fall below expectations. Christ-focused service is free of the need to calculate results; it delights only in service.
Self-focused service is affected by feelings. Christ-focused service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need. The service disciplines the feelings.
Self-focused service insists on meeting the need; it demands the opportunity to help. Christ-focused service listens with tenderness and patience. It can serve by waiting in silence (from Paul D. Robbins, Leadership, 1988, p. 146).
At the end let us reflect these coming from Evangelii Nuntiandi of Pope Paul VI: “Modern man no longer listens to teachers but to witnesses. If he listens to teachers, it is because they are first witnesses.”