Free to Serve

A reflection on the Gospel reading for the fourth Thursday in Ordinary Time (Mark 6:7-13) by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB

The 94-year-old hands of our Sister Augustina, who was a beautiful example of someone always ready to serve

Today in the Gospel reading, Jesus summoned the twelve apostles and sent them out two by two, giving them authority to drive out unclean spirits. When He describes what they should take with them, notice that it is very little. Basically He told them not to bring anything extra: not a second tunic, and no more than sandals they were wearing on their feet. They had everything that was needed for their immediate use, and not more. It seems that the point was to have no distractions from the things they were carrying with them. This is certainly part of the monastic life: not to have so much that it’s a distraction. We have distractions all the time (even without lots of possessions), so keeping things simple minimizes the distractions so we’re not worrying about “stuff.” Plus, the more you have, the more you have to clean!

We also hear that Jesus warns the apostles that they will not be welcomed everywhere they go. That doesn’t seem to distress them. Christ tells them to shake the dust off their feet and walk right on. In the same way, don’t be stressed about the blocks that come in front of you. God doesn’t suggest that we stare at them until we understand them, or tear them apart until we see the seed of everything. Kick the dust off your feet and walk right on. Don’t let things hinder you from your vocation.  Be free to do His will. Freely. That is what a true spouse does—freely serves.

There’s a prayer I like to pray, and here’s just a part of it: “To carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.” It has a touch of a wedding vow. That’s a beautiful way to begin each day. Regardless of yesterday, I have today to live for Him.

Is He not the most beautiful in your life?  That perception of Him is what will motivate you to live faithfully. Your eyes shouldn’t want to land on anybody else. He is enough. But that takes a lot of practice, a lot of perseverance, and a lot of forgiveness, because we’re human and we’re going to mess up once in a while. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it. With the desire to be faithful, there is also the grace to persevere. And we should just be excited that that’s what we have been called to do.

No Greater Service

A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB

Sr Aug and Sr MJIt seems to me that people who pursue God faithfully have their priorities straight.  Consider St. Paul: his priorities are quite straight.  For him, it is always Christ.  He does everything to serve the people.

Now being wayward people we are always fluctuating.  We will have some days when we are more fervent than others.  We will have times during which we may not be as Christian as we want to be.  But God always sends someone our way to encourage us; He believes in us.  There is nothing God wants more than to encourage us in the ways that we will fulfill, most perfectly, the image of Christ within us.  We should strive for that at all times, but don’t be surprised when things don’t go perfectly.  That is the lot of man.

In our constant pursuit of this image of Christ within, we will always be rearranging our priorities to keep God in the first place.   Prayer, too, must have its priority in our life.  All the rest will settle like the dust.

We carry responsibilities in community in the name of God.  That means when we pursue our responsibilities we also pursue God.  When we embrace what has been given to us to serve the community, whatever it may be – sweeping the hall, doing the dishes, serving the guests, feeding the cattle, pulling weeds – we do it in the name of God.  Only God knows the value of each one.  It has nothing to do with the work itself but everything to do with the intention.  Everything done well and for the glory of God has the highest value.  Our responsibilities may change over time but we must always be growing in the way in which we do them:  from the heart.  When we fulfill our responsibilities for the love of God we will be filled with peace and joy.

At the end of his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul says, “Because I do not love you?  God knows, I do.” What a wonderful way to end everything!  “God knows, I do.”  Carry this with you in whatever you do.  Do it for love.  There is no greater service.   If we do everything out of love, we will shine with the glory of God and our priorities will be straight.