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The Challenge of Love: Service

Even though we are in the fourth week of the Easter season, today’s gospel passage takes us back to the night when Jesus ate and drank with His friends and prepared them for the new Passover. There is no mention of the blessing of bread and wine. Instead, Jesus gives a long discourse of teaching. He begins with a powerful, wordless gesture. Here it is, Jesus’ own action and behavior that we are invited to imitate. Jesus showed His disciples what it means to be a servant when He washed their feet.

Service should be the permanent gesture of the disciple of Jesus. Serving implies lowering oneself. We cannot be a server if we keep our position high. We need to crouch down in front of the person we are going to serve. If the top position is maintained, the gesture will be one of pity, of alms, but not of authentic service. Whoever truly serves must renounce his honors and privileges. He or she must descend from his/her mental, emotional, and existential height positions. Whoever assumes the status of servant must put himself on the same level as the beneficiary or even lower. Only then, the beneficiary will not feel humiliated and belittled.

The gesture of Jesus when washing the feet of His disciples is to get at their level, even at the level of their feet to wash them. An occupation that is proper to slaves. For this reason, a person who wants to serve, but does not “bend down”, does not become a “slave”, his or her attitude will not be of service but of referring to himself.

To serve like Jesus is love’s challenge to us. For Jesus, love and service are on the same level. For us, it is difficult, if not impossible, because of our human weaknesses and limitations. But we are not alone. We have to give everything we can because it is Jesus pouring His love to others through us. In the end we only need to trust in God. May we conquer our fears and insecurities and may we love and serve like Jesus does.

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