“I will not serve.”¹
It’s easy to imagine this audacious remark oozing its way out from the cunning lips of the prideful serpant. Spit being cast at the loving Father’s face in a declaration of sin and self righteousness. The furrow of the reptilian brow, the contorting of the face.
Yet how often do we make this satanic proclamation ourselves? Not just in large things, with an official declaration of our aversion to the will of God, but in the hidden and quiet refusual to sacrifice our wants for love of God, or our neighbor’s good. The decree that our own welfare, however minimal, is above that of our neighbor, let alone the Giver of all that we have.
So often we are choked out by even the smallest of “worldly anxieties”² and ambitious desires for success or comfort. Perhaps it manifests as the lie that we “don’t have time” to help peel potatoes, to put away the dishes, or to unload the laundry. We’re “too tired” to offer a smile, kind word, or personal reflection from prayer. With so many cares of the world —success in school, at work, or through our hobbies— we can easily give in to the idea that we must put limits on our level of generosity.
In one of the Home of the Mother’s weekly formation meetings from Spain, Fr. Rafael touches on this topic regarding the inclination to serve ourselves rather than God. Serving God in the present moment, no matter how small or simple the acts of love that He asks of us appear to be, is the only way to become holy. Oftentimes, we make “calculated decisions guided by human prudence, and it becomes imprudence on a supernatural level”.³
Jesus Christ told us, “whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”⁴ When we turn our gaze, even ever so slightly, from the things of the Lord, we miss the point of life and can easily fall into the trap set for us by the devil.
Without a substantial prayer life, and quiet moments of reflection throughout our day, the noise of the world can drown out the quiet, still voice of God.⁵ Holiness is not found in the future, in our small cares and “to-do” list, but in living the present moment with our only thought being how can we love the Lord best, right now. Maybe that means working on homework or the next big project, maybe that means finishing the dishes before everyone gets back, maybe that means dropping what you were doing to engage in a brief conversation with someone who just walked in, or getting up from the couch to get someone water.
The fact of the matter is, that we all have a minute to give back to God, the Giver of all good things. Our time and talents aren’t ours to covet anyways. It is vital that we allow Him to interrupt our plans so that He can purify us through those small acts of selfdenial, austerity, and love. The world around us may never notice the effort it took to smile, to laugh, or to get up from our seat, but “whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple…will surely not lose his reward.”⁶
God is never outdone in generosity, and it’s in these small moments of mortification and love that God will purify and keep His fire of love burning within us. When we are tempted to say, “I don’t have time for this,” let us remember that the One who directs time, and loves us beyond all measure, would not be asking this small task of us without giving us sufficient time to finish our other necessities of the day. When you put loving God first, and ordering your day around this attitude, everything else will be provided for you⁷ and God will appear to multiply your time and increase your virtues. “There is need of only one thing,”⁸ don’t let yourself be convinced otherwise.