Sunday, September 18, 2016

Downton Revisited

Yes, I was one of the millions who got drawn into watching Downton Abbey. It made us Americans forget for just a bit our instinctive aversion to servants and masters. And perhaps those characters can help us understand today's gospel.

No one can serve two masters

We don't like the idea of having any master. But in fact we all have a master.
The servant does the will of the master.

Every time I speak or act voluntarily, it is an act of the will, mine or someone else's. In that sense every voluntary act is an act of service. If I am not serving someone else, then I must be self-serving. But none of us want to be thought of as self-serving.

In the world of Downton Abbey, the life of the staff was described as being "in service." And Carson the Butler, most of all, did not see it as a menial life. He was proud to be in service of one of the great houses; to get up every day, dress in black and white, and make sure that everything in the house was as the master of the house would want it. He would teach the younger men to anticipate the will of the master, not wait to be ordered. Mrs. Hughes in her black dress was the female counterpart.

Today's gospel reminds us that we are all servants. Some people spend their lives doing their own will, the self-serving. Some are trapped being servant to their emotions and passions. Some are servants to some thing like food, alcohol, or drugs. Some are the servants of other people, constantly trying to please them. So the question is, who's servant are you?

Today's gospel reminds us that if we are truly Christians we are servants of THE great house, and the Master of this house is God. Some of us still dress in black like the servants. But we are all servants regardless of how we dress.

We cannot have two masters. Every time we speak or act we choose a master. If we let our emotions get the best of us, they are our master. If we do what we want, we are the master. But if we get it right, we do God's will, and we show the world He is our master. And there is no better life than a one spent in service of Him.