CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec

Let us be servants of the Lord

  • December 11, 2014

We are often eager to do favours for others without considering how they might feel about it. Do they really want or need what we have in mind? Are we satisfying our own needs under the guise of being openhanded and generous? This is even more the case when God is the recipient of our favours and gifts.

Does God want or need what we offer?

David wanted to build a “house” — a temple — for God to dwell in. Throughout the journey through the wilderness the Ark and the Divine Presence were housed in a tent. After the arrival in the Promised Land a simple shrine took its place. Now David had grand plans for a flashy — and probably very expensive — temple of worship. But God would have nothing to do with it! God recognized that there was an element of control and ego in David’s desire to confine God to this house. God asked the simple question (in the omitted verses): Did I ever ask for any of these things, and did I ever have any need of them? God reminded David that it was He who had made David great, Lord of the land and victor over all of his enemies.

Then God had a counter-proposal: He offered to make David a house, in the sense of a continuous line of descendants. God pledged that a descendant of David would always sit on the throne of Israel, and also promised to show them the same faithful love. This was the origin of the expectation that the future messiah would come from the house of David. Not many of David’s descendants were worthy of the throne — many were wicked and given to corruption and idolatry. But the ideal never died, and that is why ideals are important — they prod us onward towards a transcendent goal.

At the root of this messianic ideal was the conviction that God was absolutely faithful, trustworthy and filled with merciful love for Israel. Human failings would never detract from that, nor should they discourage or disappoint us today. Humans fail; God is always faithful. Rather than informing God of the services we intend to render Him, perhaps it would be more helpful to merely put ourselves at God’s absolute bidding.

Paul recognized that salvation is strictly God’s show, not ours. At the close of his letter to the Romans, he outdid himself in praising God as the source of all strength, wisdom and holiness. The plan of salvation that God had for all humanity was being accomplished through Jesus Christ, and it now included the gentiles. The human response should be obedience and praise.

The scene of the annunciation resonated with the messianic themes, hopes and promises of the Old Testament. As the angel unfolded God’s plan to the frightened and perplexed young woman, it probably seemed too much to either to comprehend or to bear. Certainly, her husband Joseph was of the house of David, but the angel assured her that her promised son would also sit on David’s throne eternally. The child would also be holy, Son of the Most High, and Son of God. This probably added to Mary’s confusion. She did not question God’s intent, nor was she reluctant to be God’s instrument. She merely asked the very obvious and human question: How? The angel did not give her the details of the divine plan, saying only that it would be the work of the Holy Spirit and that nothing is impossible with God.

As soon as Mary was assured that this was God’s undertaking and that God would be in charge of the details, there were no more questions. She uttered the words that have been repeated by so many Christians over the ages: I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word. It was the perfect response then and it remains so for us today.

God’s name has been tarnished by too many doing Him dubious favours. Perhaps we can learn to listen to God more and allow God to use us in whatever ways please Him.
As Mother Teresa often said: allow God to use you without consulting you.