The Master is serving the Servants

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
The Master is serving the Servants
Saturday of the 25th Week after Pentecost
5 December, 2009
Galatians 3:8-12 ; Luke 12:32-40

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

The Lord has given us much to pay attention to today, both in His words to us in the Gospel, and in what He is saying to us through the words of the Apostle Paul. In both cases, the Lord is pointing out to us very clearly that our relationship with Him has to be one of love. It is endlessly repeated in the Scriptures that our relationship with Him is one of love. However, we constantly need this reminder because we have such a tendency to perceive our relationship with Him as being one of fear. This is not at all correct. If our relationship with Him is one of fear, then there is something very much the matter with us (not with the Lord).

We are not to be afraid of God. We are to respect Him, and be in awe of Him, like the servants that our Saviour spoke of in this parable (or illustration). Our Lord is saying that we have to be like servants who are waiting for their master to come home from a wedding. We do not live like this, so it is hard for us to comprehend what this means. However, there are still places in the world where this is the case, and the owner of the household has a large staff of servants. He expects them to be lovingly attentive to him at all times. In contrast to loving obedience, the world knows fearful obedience and obedience in terror. In the world, servants and slaves are fearfully obedient.

The servants are waiting for the master to come home at who knows what hour of the night from the wedding (and we know that weddings can go on for a very long time). It might be close to dawn before the master of the house thinks about coming home. Nevertheless, the servants, knowing that they are the servants of a loving master, and because of their love for him (not because of their fear) should be ready and waiting so that as soon as the master knocks on the door, the door will be instantly opened to him. He does not have to pound on the door and wake up the servants who have fallen asleep or are lounging around somewhere or chatting in the kitchen. They should be waiting for him close to the door so that they even hear him coming. The best servants are the ones who hear him coming so that he does not even have to knock on the door. They hear him coming and open the door before he has a chance to knock. Such servants who love their master are always waiting to do his will, and looking to do his will.

Let us notice what our Saviour says that the master will do with these servants. He is going to take them to the dining-room, and then he will serve the servants. That is exactly how the Lord behaves with us. That is what He is saying about our relationship with Him. Out of love, we are attentive to Him, but He is even more attentive to us. Our Saviour, in love, is serving us all the time. We keep asking Him for this and for that, and He keeps giving us this and that in one way or the other. He gives us life. He gives us what we need to eat. He gives us everything (although most of the time we keep deceiving ourselves and telling ourselves that we are doing everything, ourselves). In reality, we do not do anything without the Lord’s blessing. We have everything because of the Lord’s blessing. Indeed, it is He who gives it to us. We have what we need to buy things because He gives us the possibility. Everything is under His blessing.

We also have the words of the Apostle Paul to remember. All the Law and the Prophets found their roots in the faith of Abraham. The Law is a problem in that as a “stand-alone entity” it carries a curse upon it. That curse is : “‘Cursed is every man who does not abide in all the words of this Law to do them’” (5 Moses [Deuteronomy] 27:26). However, the Law can be kept in the right spirit in the faith of Abraham. What do we mean by the faith of Abraham ? Abraham encountered the Lord personally. The Lord met him in His love. The Lord convinced Abraham of this love so that Abraham went wherever the Lord directed him, and did whatever the Lord directed him to do (even though the Lord tested him to be very certain that this love was engrained in him). And it was engrained in Abraham. The faith of Abraham is what makes the Law liveable. The Law simply expresses the way a person who loves God lives. When it is in the context of faith, there is no such thing as a curse.

There are other important words today from our Saviour for us to remember in our times in particular, because there are so many people on radio and television who are scaring us about the end of the world. Our Saviour says very clearly that no-one knows when the Lord will return, “‘for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect’”. This very important for us to understand. All sorts of people are sifting through the writings of the Prophets, and the Apocalypse ; they are sifting through the words of our Saviour trying to calculate according to some sort of formula exactly when the Lord is going to come, and when the end of the world is going to be. Some people say it will be in 2012. Why ? Because the Mayan calendar runs out in 2012. What does the Mayan calendar have to do with anything except that they were quite good calculators of a calendar, and they had to stop it somewhere. (They ran out of rock on which to carve it, I suppose.) The year 2012 has nothing to do with anything. Some people say : “Perhaps 2011 will be the end of the world because we have Pascha two years in a row (2010 and 2011) with the western Christians. That must be a sign”. None of this makes any difference. There are all sorts of jokes about people who are prepared for the end of the world. Such people gather together and wait. They wait in one place or another for a specified time, and they will be disappointed when the time passes. Then they shamefacedly have to go back home, and back to work. There is no way to know when the Lord is coming.

We Orthodox Christians are living in the Kingdom, anyway. Here we are, in the Divine Liturgy, standing in the Kingdom all together here, today. In our prayers we are going to be addressing the Lord, and speaking as though the Kingdom had already come, and the Second Coming had already been accomplished. We are living in this timelessness in the Divine Liturgy. We are participating in the Kingdom which is to come today, now, here. This is one of the reasons why we like to be here, together. It is joy to be here together in the Kingdom of the Lord, standing together in the Lord’s heavenly Temple.

Let us do our best to live in accordance with the Lord’s love. Let us ask the Lord to renew this love over and over again, daily, so that we never forget that He loves us, that we love Him, and that this is the context of everything that we are doing every day. God loves us, and we love Him. He gives us everything, and we offer Him everything. We live in joy, and glorify Him every day of our lives, as Saint Herman of Alaska exhorts us to do : loving God above all, and glorifying Him : Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.