In the early Church there was a growing division between converts to Christianity and the Jewish community. And there was also a profound sadness – when a member of one or the other side felt excluded from a beautiful relationship. God had entered into an especially beautiful relationship with the chosen people. He was their God and they were his beloved people. With the coming of Jesus Christ that relationship was broadened to include the Gentiles. As we say in the 2nd Eucharistic prayer, “He stretched out his hands as he endured his passion”. Jesus did so to embrace us and all humankind with his Father’s love.
Our first reading explains that this means that we “are no longer strangers and sojourners”. We are not on the outside looking in. “We are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God”. By God’s favor and the sacrifice of his Son on the cross we have been drawn into God’s family, made full members of that family with the right of inheritance. Our inheritance will be everlasting life in heaven.
As if that weren’t enough, we see more of God’s incredible love for us in today’s gospel. There Jesus speaks of a Master who puts on an apron and waits on his own servants. It’s sort of a shocking illustration, but it reminds us of Jesus, the Master who at supper on the night before he dies, gets up from the table, wraps a towel around his waist and begins to wash the feet of his own disciples: a slave’s work done by a man born to be a king. God is full of surprises when it comes to showing how much he loves us.
‘Be wide-awake and prepared for your Master’s return’, Jesus tells us. Not out of fear – but out of eager longing to possess fully the promise he has made. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. As we share his Body and Blood in Eucharist we are being drawn closer “into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit”.
- Fr. Damian Towey, CP is a member of the community at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center,North Palm Beach,Florida.