Are You Ready To Give Up … To Serve?

by | Jun 24, 2017 | Formation, Reflections

Are you ready to give up … to serve?

Perhaps you might find yourself relating to the first part and wondering about the second part.

Sometimes, maybe even many times, we walk into situations with preconceived notions about what is needed. Think of the husband who buys his wife a car when all she wants is to have some quiet time with him,

Continuing the series of reflections on service to the marginalized written by Fr. Jim Cormack, CM, .famvin offers his thoughts on the questions he thinks Vincent ask of us. Today’s question …”What do we have to give up to serve?”

4) Commitment to Smallness

And if we are weak enough, courageous enough, and trusting enough, are we ready to change and give up what we must to serve?

Most who answer the call of the Lord to serve and be with the poor, are not and were never financially poor. Most come from stable families, with economic security and opportunity. Many are well-educated and have been given many opportunities to develop themselves, understand themselves, and dream about what might be.

Service of the poor requires a commitment to smallness; to doing ordinary things, with people noted as ordinary. I came to St. Vincent’s from the faculty in a college seminary. I loved teaching and thinking. I was good on my feet and clever enough; I had a good vocabulary. I discovered that the poor did not need these and were not impressed. I found that what rewards I garnered from teaching I had to give away, and do this freely, or I could not be a servant to those I had been called to serve. It required a stripping, a painful changing. I had to become ready to give up doing “meaningful” and “professional” things so as to listen, to feed, to shelter, to be with the poor.

Are we ready to give away and change, to accept the small and ordinary, and in faith see dignity? Can we give up quick and discernible rewards for our efforts?

Sometimes our service seems to be so much band-aid help, helping little and changing nothing. Are we willing to be stripped of those hopes and dreams, those wants and desires that keep us from seeing full and real life with the poor? We can miss seeing the poor and their needs; we can miss hearing their call for support and compassion if we are too filled, or surrounded by too much, or need too much to succeed.

Schooled or not, every human person can be wise, able to know and understand what is important, what matters, why we are and where we are headed. Unfortunately, knowledge can spawn pride, and pride always blinds. Being stripped of the importance of gifts and talents, of their rank or status, can help us see and understand. Smallness can be freeing if it is embraced; there’s nothing to fool us then, to seduce us with importance. Many “small” people are wise. Already stripped, they see and understand. They cherish and live. It is the great gift of simplicity that lets us really live. But, simplicity comes only with a willingness to change, to give up, to be stripped.


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