There is a certain amount of joy and excitement that fill the air when the first week of school comes around.
Perhaps you are a returning student and are used to the routine of things that are needed to have a successful semester. You may be a first-year student who has no idea what is in store for you.
There is a whole batch of questions and concerns that may be on your mind when you start off a new year. Who will I be friends with? Will I be accepted? Did I choose the right major? How do I study for all of these classes? What is this instructor like? Do the students I am teaching really care about this? Can I really accomplish everything I have to do for the next four years?
These may sound similar to your questions and perhaps there are many more of your own. What I would like to say first is that if you have a desire to succeed, you will. There are enough resources on campus to help you meet that. Secondly, ask for help before you are behind.
Jesus must have had so many of the same questions and concerns that we have. Each time he entered a new town there must have been some sort of apprehension about how it would go.
The people Jesus encountered were not always the most welcoming; after all, some of the people did not like his presence among them. He was not from the same cut of material that they were used to dealing with.
In the Gospel of Luke 17:7-10, Jesus is dealing with the question of “giving your best” regardless of the cost. Jesus was addressing the issue of a laborer who wanted an immediate reward and compensation for his work. The attitude of “just getting by” was what the laborer had in mind. There was a notion that “I am doing what is required and nothing more.”
Jesus is taking it one step further when he tells us, “When you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
Just skating by is not all there is in life. If all I ever do with my life is the minimal amount of work, I am not going to reach my full potential. Being challenged in life is what builds our character. We become better people when we overcome adversity.
Jesus showed this every time he went to a village or a town to enlighten people and guide them to a life of love. Each time he spoke of the law, he always took it one step further and challenged the people, especially the ones who were in charge, to the duty of caring for the lowly and outcast.
When Jesus spoke of love, he spoke of the love that comes from going the extra mile and meeting people where they are in life and that could be uncomfortable.
You may find yourself in a similar position this year. You may have a roommate whom you are not friendly with and all of your attempts to be nice are met with opposition. You may have a professor who seems to be harsh and unapproachable. You may be bullied and excluded from “the cool people” group.
You may find a student you are teaching to be challenging and different and always questioning. You may have a student or employee who seems to a “black sheep” and you look the other way when your paths cross.
In his 1963 encyclical, “Pacem In Terris, On Establishing Universal Peace In Truth, Justice, Charity, And Liberty,” Pope John XXIII wrote, “Hence, to claim one’s rights and ignore one’s duties, or only half fulfill them, is like building a house with one hand and tearing it down with the other.” Similar to Christ, Pope John XXIII, spoke of going the extra mile and supplying our neighbors with their needs and a way to achieve their goals.
We are all called to be leaders and witnesses to the good news. The way we live and the good examples that we offer are our duty that lead to a richer and fuller life.
Merely doing what is required is no way to serve each other. Living requires much more than existing. Living in mutual collaboration is a step closer to achieving a community goal. We are bound by natural law to love each other, which at times, can be difficult to do.
This challenge is not met without help, which is in Christ, who came to serve. When you are lost seek him and you will truly find him and in those around you.