The Way of Service

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
The Way of Service
Saturday of the 33rd Week after Pentecost
12 January, 2008
Ephesians 1:16-23 ; Luke 12:32-40

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

It seems to me that we human beings are not necessarily very spiritually attentive as we pass through our lives. It seems to me that this is so because we tend to be so distracted by our wilful egos, and by the multitude of small, daily details and concerns that preoccupy us. It is, nevertheless, important for us to pay attention, because our Lord is telling us that we have to be looking for Him, expecting Him, at all times. We have to be prepared for Him to come at any time, and anywhere. The Gospel reading for today concludes by saying that our Lord is going to come back at a time when we are not expecting Him to arrive, or when we are not even thinking about Him, because we are distracted by something or another.

What is the important thing to pay attention to here ? The important thing is that we are to be prepared. How are we going to be prepared if our minds are not constantly focussed on the Lord, doing His will, and communicating with Him ? The servants of the house about whom our Lord is speaking in this parable, are servants who love their master ; they are ready to do everything for him, to be pleasing to him. As soon as he knocks on the door, the door is immediately opened by the servants, and he does not have to wait. Such servants are actively waiting for their master, and they are prepared because of love and respect for their master. What does this master do when he comes to the house ? It is not what normally would happen. Unexpectedly, he does not sit down so that all the servants that have been waiting for him are able to give him something to eat. No. Instead, according to the words of our Lord, this master, when he comes home from the wedding, is going to wrap a towel around his waist (“he will gird himself”, the Gospel says) ; he is going to serve the servants ; he is going to feed them. Of course, all this is a metaphor for the Lord.

The Orthodox Christian way is sort of upside down as compared with what the world understands. This is the Orthodox Christian way – service. Our Saviour is our pattern. We are to be imitating Him. Service is the way. We are to be looking for ways in which we can serve. Our Master, Himself, is serving the servants. This is not at all what we would expect. However, let us look again at what the Apostle is saying to the Ephesians about what is the disposition of our Saviour, who is our example. He was, is, and always shall be completely obedient out of love to the will of the Father. The Apostle is not talking about how our Saviour rose from the dead by Himself, and so forth, and how He exalted Himself. No. It was the Father who raised Christ from the dead, he says (see Colossians 2:12 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:10). It is the Father who exalted Him, and who does exalt Him. It is the Father who made Him the Head of the Body of Christ of which we are members. The Son, Himself, shows the true nature of humility as being the product of love. He is the living example of how to live love, selfless love.

I hope that we all can remember these words of our Saviour. This is really what it means to live an Orthodox Christian life : to imitate Jesus Christ, to be like Him, to love like Him, to serve like Him, to shine with the light of love like Him, because He who is with us is within us and enabling us to do and to be all this. Let us ask Him to renew this love, this purpose, this sense of direction, this communion of love in our hearts, so that at whatever time He does come to us (not only in the Second Coming, but anytime He comes to us), we will be ready to open the door to Him, and we will not make Him wait. Instead, we will welcome Him instantly with open heart and open arms. Let us all, in our whole life, glorify Him, together with the unoriginate Father, and the all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.