“No servant can serve two masters.” Recognizing that led me to leave Berea College. I saw that I would be split between two competing institutions. I could not serve both. I even remembered this scripture passage we hear in today’s gospel. “No servant can serve two masters.” I had to make an ultimate decision: Church or academy, professor or priest. I believed the call to become a priest, which had returned to me after many years, was clearly from God. Still, it was not easy. Still, it often is not easy.
Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman also faced an ultimate decision. He had been an Anglican priest, a renowned preacher. He suffered a painful break with the Anglican Church and his Anglican friends when he entered the Roman Catholic Church. He suffered from the misunderstandings of these friends. It was painful for him, but he believed this decision was of God. “No servant can serve two masters.”
Karol Wojytla gave up an actor’s life to become a priest (Blessed Pope John Paul II). “No servant can serve two masters.” Most people serve God by getting married and raising a family. It involves a decisive change, a break from the single life where I can do what I want for me alone. The life includes crosses: the sacrifices, along with joys, the dyings along with the rising, that lead to life for others.
Each of us at some point must make a decision for God and against something that might seem very attractive, lucrative, and comfortable. Recall Richard Rich in the film A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt. He told Thomas More that he wanted advancement in the Court of Henry the VIII. Thomas More told him, “Be a teacher.” Richard asked, “Who would know it?” More answered: “You, your pupils, God, not a bad public that.” Again, “No servant can serve two masters.”
Ultimately it’s doing something for the Glory of God and the good of others, the common good. This is true wealth, the commonwealth, civic and spiritual. It is surrender to God and a dying to self for a greater good, for something more, something greater. I heard a wise priest once ask this. QUESTION: What does God want of us? ANSWER: God wants everything. Yes, God wants all that we are, but he doesn’t take it away from us. He returns it to us perfected, enhanced and expanded—for our good and the good of others. A rich return. God gave John Paul II the whole as a stage in return.
Newman prayed: “God has created me to do him some definite service….some work to me which He has not committed to another.” We serve God, even in a small ways. Though the cross will be there, the choice leads to human flourishing for me and for others – and God’s greater Glory. How do you serve God? Thank him for the rich return he has given you.