When Christ said that “no servant is greater than his master, nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him,” (Jn 13,16) he obviously does not mean that we cannot outdo and outshine our superiors in our work and social status. It’s obvious that many are the cases where the servants and messengers outrank their superiors—be they parents, teachers, bosses, etc.—after a time.
Rather what Christ tries to convey with those words is the fact that insofar as those relationships of master-servant or master-messenger remain as such, no servant can be greater than his master, nor the messenger greater than the one who sent him. It’s only when fate and fortune make changes in their respective statuses that we can expect an inversion of their roles and positions in society.
What Christ tries to convey here is that in our relationship with him and with God, we will always remain a servant and a messenger to God through Christ, and we should just do what God through Christ would want us to do. We cannot and should not reverse the roles, by making God follow what we want.
In this particular instance, Christ is trying to tell us that we should be like him who acted as a servant and messenger of his Father for our own good, for our own salvation. He is highlighting the fact that he is simply acting at the instance of his Father who is also our Father God. That way, when we follow Christ, we follow God in effect.
That is why Christ repeated so many times that he who sees and listens to him sees and listens to God himself. And if we follow Christ to the point of becoming like him, then anyone who sees and listens to us sees and listens to Christ and to the Father.
We need to be more aware of this responsibility of ours to be like Christ in being a servant and messenger of his Father God who is also our Father. While we may enjoy some privileged positions in the world, we should never forget that we are meant to be a servant and a messenger insofar as our relationship with God through Christ is concerned.
We have to be wary of our tendency to easily fall into pride, vanity and conceit whenever we enjoy special status in our life here on earth. We should strengthen and continue reinforcing our conviction that we are actually nothing without God and that we need to continually keep an intimate relationship with Christ in the Holy Spirit.
We have to make some readjustments in our understanding of being a servant and a messenger. It should not be pegged only on some worldly and temporal standards. Rather, it should be understood in the context of the role of Christ in our life, he who is the “way, truth and life” for us.
To be sure, understanding being a servant and messenger that way would never be regarded as some kind of downgrading our status. Rather, it would lead us to realize that we are achieving the fullness of our dignity as the “image and likeness” of God, children of his, meant to share in God’s very own life that is supernatural.
If this truth of faith is clear in our mind, there is no doubt that we would be most eager to become servants and messengers of God through Christ in the Holy Spirit!*