Father Jairo Yate, Investigating Judge in the diocese of Ibagué, Colombia, offers this reflection, through the words of Pope Francis and of Sacred Scripture, on the importance of serving the community in the Church.
* * *
A Christian Exists to Serve
Pope Saint Paul VI taught that “the principal responsibility of the Church is service to the Truth. For his part, Pope Francis, in his homily in Casa Santa Marta on April 26, 2018, explained that “Jesus shows us service, as the way of a Christian.” In fact, a “Christian exists to serve, not to be served.” And it’s a rule that is valid one’s “whole life.”
Everything is enclosed there: in fact, “many men and women in history,” who have “taken it seriously,” have left traces of true Christians,” traces “of love and of service.”
During the Last Supper, the Lord left two commandments of love and service and then, a warning. “You all must love as servants, you must serve because you are servants.” And the explanation of these words “is also a rule of life: “In truth, in truth, I say to you: a servant is not greater than his master, or a guest greater than the one who invited him.”
In other words, “You all will be able to celebrate the Eucharist, you all can serve, but sent by Me, sent by Me. You all are not greater than Me.”
Pope Francis affirms that the greatest in the Church is the one that serves, not the one who has more titles. The Gospel cannot be lived by engaging in compromises, otherwise, it ends up in the spirit of the world, which points to domination of others and is an “enemy of God,” but the way of service must be chosen. “He who wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
“Way, Service and Gratuitousness”
In his homily at Santa Marta’s on June 11, 2015, the Pontiff highlighted the “Way, Service, Gratuitousness. “Way as being sent to proclaim. Service: a Christian’s life is not for himself but for others, as Jesus’ life was. And “gratuitousness. Our hope is in Jesus Christ, who thus gives us a hope that never disappoints. “
“A disciple who doesn’t serve others isn’t Christian,” he added. “A disciple must do what Jesus preached in those two columns of Christianity: the Beatitudes and afterward the ‘protocol’ on which we will be judged.” These “are the framework of evangelical service”: “If a disciple doesn’t walk to serve, he is useless in walking. If his life isn’t for service, it’s no good for him to live as a Christian.”
The Pope also spoke of “gratuitousness,” of serving freely, and warned of the danger of riches. “Freely you have received, freely you must give,” is Jesus’ admonition. “The way of service is for free because we have received salvation freely, a pure grace. None of us has bought salvation. None of us has merited it. It’s a pure grace of the Father in Jesus Christ, in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”
“It’s sad when one meets Christian communities, be they parishes, Religious Congregations or dioceses that forget gratuitousness, because behind this there is the deceit (to presume) that salvation comes from riches, from human power.”
Service is Based on Sacred Scripture
He who wants to be great among you must serve the others” (Matthew 20:26).
Of what service does the Holy Bible speak to us? The biblical hermeneutic says: The servants of Christ are, in the first place, servants of the Word: “let us persevere in prayer and in the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4).
Those that proclaim the Gospel fulfill a sacred service. Romans 15:16: “To be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the Gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.’” Colossians1:23; Philippians 2:22, “with all humility,” and, if necessary, “in tears and with trials,” Acts 20:19.
Those that serve the community as the Deacons do in particular. Acts 6:1-4: “The Twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said to them: ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.’”
Saint Paul teaches under what conditions this service will be worthy of the Lord. Romans 12:7.9-13: “If service, in our service; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit. Serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope. Be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.”
Serve God as sons and not as slaves (Galatians 4).