When I was in high school, I worked at Shoney’s as a waiter on the weekends. I still vividly remember coming home late at night — sometimes 10, 11 o’clock or even later — completely wiped out, smelling like greasy french fries as I carefully counted out my dollar-bills from the evening’s tips. No matter how late I came home, however, my mom had a delicious meal prepared for me to devour as soon as I came home. I was exhausted and famished from a hard night’s work — but my mom was ready to feed me.
I was reminded of these late-night home-cooked meals as I reflected on this morning’s Gospel passage. Jesus urges us to be ready to open immediately when the bridegroom returns from the wedding banquet — even if he comes during the third or fourth watch, meaning… really late in the night — later than we expected! We need to be prepared just like my mom was, even when Jesus comes home smelling like greasy french fries! Jesus tells us to be vigilant. To be ready.
And understandably, we might expect that when he does return, we should start serving him — just like my mom so generously gave me food as soon as I came home from work. But that’s where the story suddenly reverses!
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them!
This is meant to shock us. To disrupt our expectations.
Christ came to serve us… to sacrifice Himself on our behalf. He promises that when we are ready to welcome him into our lives, when we are willing to admit we desperately need His help He will be our waiter. He will feed us food. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Our service to God can only flow out of the fact that Christ first served us… that He first loved us.
Imagine if I came home from Shoney’s and began to serve my mom food instead of the other way around! Of course, my mother is full-blooded Italian, and she’d never let that happen.
But that’s precisely how surprising the Gospel actually is. We worship a God so humble and selfless that he takes the form of a servant, empties himself, and serves us.
Sometimes it’s easier to just go on busying ourselves with “serving God,” to anxiously fill up all our time with Church stuff as if we were doing Jesus and His Church a favor — as though we were saving Him the trouble of waiting on us. Don’t worry God! I’m already hard at work for you over here… you can go on and help somebody else…
It’s much harder to let Him serve us, isn’t it? Remember how Peter reacted at the Last Supper — when Jesus bent down to wash his feet? Peter pulled back saying “You’ll never wash my feet, Lord!” …as if to say: “Lord, I’m supposed to be serving you! This is all backwards! I should be working, and you should be relaxing.” What was Jesus’ response to Peter and by extension to us here this morning? “Unless I wash you, you can have no part in me.”
Unless you allow Christ to serve you, you can have no part in Him. That’s the unique and authentic liberation that our faith promises us! We cannot save ourselves. It’s all grace. So allow Him to constantly enter into your life… to cleanse you of your sins, to convert your heart. Let him be your Savior. Let him be your waiter.