Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. -Luke 12:37
As a very young child I remember visiting my grandma on my father’s side of the family. There, perched on her kitchen counter, sat what seemed to me like a whole bakery full of freshly baked loaves of bread. My grandma came to this country from Ireland as a young mother of one child, with a second one on the way. She would have six more children, ending up the mother of five girls and three boys. My father, Joe was the third child and oldest boy. At that time, I never knew you could make bread at home. I thought you had to go to the bakery. When I later learned how to make bread at home, I realized why my mother chose to send us to the bakery every day to get our two large loaves of white bread sliced and one rye without seed.
The scripture passage taken from today’s readings for the feast of St. Raymond of Penafort, OP, a 13th century friar who codified canon law under Pope Gregory IX got me thinking about service and what it means to be a servant. Evidently St. Raymond was a “vigilant” servant. According to a Wikipedia article, his codification of canon law became the Roman Church’s standard for the next 700 years. The article relates that St. Raymond had a deep sense of justice and compassion which kept him from excesses found in the age he lived—the formative years of the Inquisition. Sounds like a saint for today, a person willing to serve and to avoid the excesses of his day!
God, thank you for putting people in my life who are willing to serve and help me learn from the story of St. Raymond to vigilantly recognize opportunities to serve and to go about that service quietly and without judgement for those I help. Let me learn from my grandma and all mothers and food preparers to serve you, by serving and loving those you graciously put in my life.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.