“We Have Only Done What Was Our Duty” | iPray with the Gospel
Will any one of you, who has a servant ploughing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down at table? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.”
“Duty” is linked to the word “due”. The definition of the word ‘justice’ is “giving to everyone what is their due.” If you buy an icecream, you give the ice-cream seller his due, the cost of the icecream. When you pay him, you are not doing him a favour but giving him ‘his due’. We have a good sense of justice when people owe us something. Imagine you lend your phone to your friend to call home because his ran out of battery. Then you ask him if you can borrow his pen for a second and he says: ‘No way! If you forgot yours it’s not my fault.’ It doesn’t seem very reasonable, does it?
Think about your parents. Your mum gave birth to you. Then your parents nurtured you, fed you, dressed you, cleaned you, taught you… For countless nights they woke up several times in the middle of the night to hold you, feed you or change you. For countless hours your mum has been cooking for you, washing your clothes, tidying your room, making your bed, driving you home… Who paid for the bed that you use, your food, your clothes, your games, your house, your books, your education…? And so, when one good day mum asks you to clear the table, tidy your room (which is not yours really, it’s your parents’), make ‘your’ bed… do you think you are entitled to claim some kind of ‘reward’ in exchange?
Now think about God: Everything you have, you are, you enjoy, everyone in your life (parents, siblings, friends…), – EVERYTHING! – has been given to you by God. Don’t you think that going to Mass or saying your prayers or struggling to be a good child of His, is the least that He deserves? We don’t expect any ‘reward’ from Him: He has rewarded us already beyond measure. Our ‘duty’ is to be grateful and to love Him with all our hearts. Mary, my Mother, may I be a ‘dutiful’ child of God.
Rev. George Boronat M.D. S.T.D is a Catholic priest from the Prelature of Opus Dei, working in the Archdiocese of Southwark in London. He is the Chaplain of The Cedars Independent School in Croydon, and also works as Chaplain of Kelston Club & Study Centre (Balham) and Oakwood Independent School (Purley). He has developed his pastoral ministry mainly with young people and is the author of iPray with the Gospel: Resources to Help Young People Pray (www.ipraywiththegospel.org).