LOVE MAKES THE DIFFERENCE IN OUR SERVICE
(Wednesday, December 21st)
Compete: to strive consciously or unconsciously for an objective (position, profit, prize); be in a state of rivalry
Commend: to entrust for care or preservation; to recommend as worthy of confidence or notice; praise
Have you ever felt as if you had the right talent or expertise for a certain position, but you were not hired? Or have you served well in a vocation and then felt as if the time was right to move on – but you hesitated to relinquish because no one else seemed as capable? There may be times when we feel as if we are the best qualified, that no one could do better than we would.
Our Advent Love reflection today invites us to rethink our tendency to compete and to recognize the times to commend.
Let’s look ahead to a Holy Week story. In the hours before his arrest and eventual crucifixion, Jesus gathered with his disciples to share final words of encouragement, instruction, and commendation. He gave the disciples many assuring promises, including this one…
Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12 NRSVUE)
Jesus knew he would soon leave his friends, so he chose to teach and affirm them before entrusting his loving mission to them. Out of love for God and God’s people, Jesus relinquished his rightful leadership role and commended the future to these faithful ones. We now know how his death and resurrection have changed lives for centuries, but I wonder if Jesus wished he could have had a few more earthly years to make an even greater impact. When we read of the times he corrected or chastised his disciples, I also wonder if Jesus doubted their ability to further his message of God’s gracious love.
And yet, Jesus chose to bless his disciples and bestow his sacred mission upon them.
The Advent Love of Jesus is the selfless surrender of pride and plans. Out of our desire to please God, to not be deemed a quitter, we may be tempted to persevere, but the Advent Love of Jesus shows us that we do not need to compete or impress to receive God’s abundant love.
The Advent Love of Jesus is the generous gifting of roles and responsibilities. When we entrust others with something precious while affirming our confidence in them, they have an opportunity to grow and learn – and perhaps do greater works than these! God’s love flourishes when we enable others to flourish.
The Advent Love of Jesus is knowing when to set aside competition, and then to bless and bestow with our commendation.