Tuesday, 21 January 2014

3 Characteristics of the Lord's Servant (Pope Benedict XVI)

1. Fidelity
"[The servant] is entrusted with a great good that does not belong to him. The Church is not 'our' Church, but his Church, God's Church. The servant must give an account of the way that he has taken care of the goods that have been entrusted to him. We do not bind men to us; we do not seek power, prestige, esteem for ourselves."

"We know that things in civil society, and often in the Church too, go badly because those upon whom responsibility has been conferred work for themselves and not the community, for the common good. With a few lines the Lord traces an image of the wicked servant, who begins to stuff himself and get drunk and beat his fellow servants, betraying the essence of his duty in this way. In Greek the word that indicates 'fidelity' coincides with that which indicates 'faith.' The fidelity of the servant of Jesus Christ also consists precisely in the fact that he does not seek to adjust the faith to the fashions of the time."

2. Prudence
"Prudence, according to the Greek philosophical tradition, it is the first of the cardinal virtues; it indicates the primacy of truth, that becomes the criterion of our conduct through 'prudence.' Prudence demands humble, disciplined and vigilant reason, [which can be] blinded by prejudices; it does not judge according to desires and passions, but it seeks the truth -- even uncomfortable truth. Prudence means engaging in the pursuit of truth and acting in a way that conforms to it. The prudent servant is above all a man of truth and of sincere reason."

"In this way we become truly reasonable men, who judge on the basis of the whole and not according to accidental details. We do not let ourselves be guided by the little window of our personal cleverness, but by the big window, that Christ has opened up to the whole truth for us, we look upon the world and men and [from this truth] see what truly counts in life."

3. Goodness
"Only God is good in the full sense. He is the Good, the Good par excellence, Goodness in person. In a creature — in man — being good is therefore necessarily based on a deep interior orientation to God. Goodness grows with interior unification with the living God. Goodness presupposes above all a living communion with God, the Good, a growing interior union with him. And in fact: from who else can one learn about true goodness if not from him who loved us to the end, to the extreme (cf. 13:1)? We become good servants through our living relationship with Jesus Christ. Only if our life unfolds in dialogue with him, only if his being, his characteristics penetrate us and form us, can we become truly good."


Pope Benedict XVI
From Papal Homily at the Episcopal Ordination of Five New Bishops
St. Peter's Basilica
September 12, 2009

Image: "Women Washing Clothes by the Stream"- Daniel Ridgway Knight

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