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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

OUR THEME FOR 2011
(Part 16)

THE STRENGTH TO BE LIGHT TO THE NATIONS


February 27, 2011

Today’s readings
Isaiah 49:14-15
Psalm 62:2-9
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Matthew 6:24-34


God is about a mighty work in the world today. And we in CFC-FFL are privileged to be part of His plan. But whatever we have accomplished for the cause of Christ in these almost 30 years are still “too little,” because God intends to use us as “a light to the nations, that (His) salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Is 49:6).

How do we tap in fully to God’s strength? Especially as we still are committing some of the infidelities that led to the crisis in CFC.

How do we face the crossroad that is coming up at the end of our 30th year, and make the right choices? This is especially critical as we see how we have failed to heed the prophetic warnings at two previous crossroads--one at the turn of the millennium, and the other at the end of our 25th year. The consequences were devastating--from 2001 our evangelization began to falter and our membership declined year after year, and in 2007 there was the crisis and split.

We have also not been fully learning the lessons of Lamentations, the lessons of Job, the demands of servant leadership. But now we are again almost at a crucial crossroad. We are running out of time. We need to be clear about what God expects of us, and act accordingly.

Today’s readings give us much needed perspective and wisdom.

Servants and stewards

Paul tells us, “Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” (1 Cor 4:1-2).

We are God’s servants. That is our call (Is 49:3). As servants, we are His instruments. God calls us to do what He would do. We act in lieu of the Master. What God desires to happen is entrusted to us. Now that is awesome! We are doing the very work of God! And God is making Himself dependent upon us!

Entrusting the work to His servants makes us also His stewards. And what are we stewards of? The very mysteries of God! What are some of these awesome mysteries? One, the divine work of saving souls is entrusted to us. Two, the all-powerful God has made Himself dependent upon weak human flesh. Three, we are given the privilege of carrying and embracing the very cross of Christ. Four, we are thrust into the center of the spiritual warfare that is raging in the heavens and on earth between the angels of Michael and the demons of Satan. We can only begin to grasp the profound realities into which we have been placed. But Paul says we have been made stewards of such mysteries!

As such, we need to be trustworthy. God has entrusted us with these awesome realities, and we need to be worthy of that trust. Otherwise, the very plan and intent of God, at least as far as our part is concerned, will not come to pass!

How are we to be found trustworthy? We need to be faithful--to our calling, to our covenant, to the call to servanthood and discipleship, to the call to holiness.

Not serving two masters

How can we be faithful? We are faithful not only when we do what we are told to do, but when we truly recognize that we only have one Master, and he is Jesus.

The reality is that we have many aspects of our lives--our family, our secular job, our social circle of friends, our Christian community. All these are good, coming from God. But we need to know that some of these good aspects of our lives might be the very reasons that could prevent us from being true servants and stewards. We might refuse community service or mission because we want to spend more time with our family or because we are looking to advancement of our career. Before we know it, the other good aspects of our lives are already consuming all of our time and energy, leaving nothing else for the service to God, beyond family.

So Jesus himself tells us, “No man can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mt 6:24). While mammon here refers to wealth or property, the principle applies to anything or anyone that takes precedence over God. If our priorities are our own personal home rather than the kingdom of God, our own family rather than the other children of God whose souls need saving, our secular work or career rather than the work of evangelization and mission, then we are serving another master. We may even begin despising the demands of God on us, or the demands of Christian community life, because these are seen as now interfering with the aspects of life we have decided to pursue.

But we do have our family and our secular job to look to. Shall we neglect these in order to serve God? No, never! How then do we bring together and balance all these different aspects of our life?

We do so by allowing our lives to revolve around our Christian community. We do so by living out our covenant in CFC-FFL. When we do this, everything else will fall into place. We will never neglect our family, even as we see that giving them a little less time in order to serve God outside the family will ultimately redound to the family’s benefit. We will not neglect our secular work, since this allows us to provide for the needs of our family, and gives us a natural environment in the world in which to evangelize. We will receive teachings, formation, pastoral support, fraternal correction, counseling; we will have the opportunity to serve; we will journey with many others and help each other along on the path to holiness.

When we center our lives on Christ within the context of Christian community, then we will have all the tools and support with which to respond in faithfulness to God’s call. Then we will never have to face the prospect of serving two masters. When we serve God, we put the totality of our lives in order.

Now we know the principle. But the realities are still daunting. Might we not neglect our family and secular work, as we seek to focus only on Christ and his call to us? The answer has already been given, and it is “no.”

But knowing our human longings and failings, Jesus himself assures us. He says do not worry about our life, what we will eat or drink, what we will wear; he tells us to look at the birds in the sky, at how God feeds them, and to look at the wild flowers, how God clothes them in splendor (Mt 6:25-31). If God does this, how much more will He provide for us! It boils down to a matter of faith. God already assures us of His care, but do we believe Him?

If we do not, then we are sorely lacking in faith! Then we are just like the pagans (Mt 6:32a). God knows what we need and will provide. But we need to trust in Him. We need to allow Him to provide for us rather than our trusting just in ourselves for this provision. How do we show this? How will we experience the fullness of God’s provision? Jesus says it plainly, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Mt 6:33).

God alone

There you have it. First things first, and everything else falls into place. Serve God alone, the only Master.

David affirms this. “My soul rests in God alone” (Ps 62:2a). Why? Because one’s salvation comes from God alone (Ps 62:2b). Salvation is the fullness of God’s work in us. This is how we experience restoration to the Father and our being children of God, and how we will make it to our eternal home in heaven. We look to Jesus as our Savior and Lord, and in him we have everything that we need. “God alone is my rock and salvation, my secure height; I shall never fall.” (Ps 62:3).

Because of this reality that from God comes our salvation and thus our soul rests in God alone, we also see the essence of our call to serve. We do the work of evangelization and mission in order that many more souls will experience salvation and rest in God alone.

In God, being our Savior, is our hope (Ps 62:6). In God is our safety and glory (Ps 62:8a). We are safe and protected because God conceals us in the shadow of His arm and hides us in His quiver (Is 49:2). In God is our glory because we are His servants through whom He shows His glory (Is 49:3). Further, in God is our strength, for He is our “strong rock” (Ps 62:8b).

So what does all this say to us? “Trust God at all times, my people!” (Ps 62:9a). God will provide and we are to have faith and not be like the pagans. In the call to be stewards, we must be trustworthy. To be trustworthy we need to be faithful. To be faithful we need to recognize only one Master. To center our lives on our only Master Jesus we need to live out our covenant fully in the Christian community to which we have been called. To do all these, we trust in God at all times.

God’s assurance

How do we manifest such trust? We are to fully invest our lives in God’s call. We are to hold nothing back. We are to be true servants and stewards.

God makes His final assurance. “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” (Is 49:15). Wow! We know that mothers (the normal ones) are the most loving and nurturing of their children, from the womb and beyond. We know that mothers will sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of their children. Now God says this is how He is. And that even if such mothers fail in doing so, He never will.

We have a Father in heaven who loves us and promises to care for us. We have a God who manifests such love and care as a mother would. We must be totally secure in this God who calls us to serve Him.

Postscript

A normal mother will not forget her infant. But in today’s world we see many would-be mothers who do forget, who abort the child in their wombs. This is the way it is in a world that is dominated by Satan and darkness and evil. Everything is turned topsy-turvy. This world is always beckoning to us, and if we respond, this world, and thus Satan, could very easily become our master.

How do we resist this? How do we protect ourselves from this? We do so by clinging to Jesus our Savior, looking to God alone, and involving ourselves deeply in the body of Christ on earth. We become servants of Christ in the Church (and within parts of the Church such as our community of CFC-FFL).

We do all these, and we can rightly look to what God intends to do to and through us. Just as David proclaimed his glory to be with God his strong rock (Ps 62:8), we too can rightly exclaim: “And I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength!” (Is 49:5c).

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