Servanthood in Strange Times

by Sarah Matthews

On first reflection Holy Thursday this year provides yet another opportunity for COVID-19 cognitive dissonance.

Across the scriptures on Holy Thursday, Jesus provides his disciples and their descendants for over 2,000 years, two opportunities for communion with him.  Through receiving him in the Eucharist and the demonstration of tender care through the washing of feet, we are given both the tools and the nourishment to be Christ’s body in the world.

But right now, temporarily, these gifts have been denied us. So, we are challenged as a Christian community to think differently about servanthood. To think about what We Can do.

We can be re-energised in our Easter faith.

In Pope Francis’ address during the extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing, he places us in the boat with Jesus and the disciples on very stormy seas. https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/03/27/read-pope-francis-urbi-et-orbi-address-coronavirus-and-jesus-calming-storm

We can, in the words of Pope Francis in the same address, “create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity”.

  • This Facebook page and our parish website are examples of this and both can grow where hearts are willing to tend.
  • We have a parish phone buddy system. You can join the system by ringing the parish office on 3355 2667, or emailing the Social Justice Group at sjg.grovely@bne.catholic.net.au. This is an important way to keep connected with each other.
  • Encourage parishioners who have not received parish email updates and would like to forward their details to us at grovely@bne.catholic.net.au — this will enable us to reach out to as many parishioners as possible.

We can ask people what they need.

In John 13:8-10, Peter is at first appalled at the thought of Jesus humbling himself to washing the disciples feet. Then when Jesus states this act of being served as a condition of discipleship, Peter changes his tune and asks Jesus to wash not just his feet but his hands and head too. And Jesus replies no, just your feet. Because if you have had a bath you are completely clean and don’t need to wash anywhere except your feet. Servanthood is about honouring the dignity of those you are serving, and just helping with the bit they can’t do themselves at this time.

Becky Wass, a young woman in Cornwall, developed the attached postcard to offer assistance to her neighbours. https://bit.ly/34incAv

We can allow ourselves to be served.

It is likely that with COVID-19, in addition to seasonal illnesses, as well as the chronic illnesses that many in our community bear the burden of, we may find ourselves needing support. Allowing ourselves time to rest is not only crucial for our own health, but allowing others to care for us is also a gift. Don’t be shy to reach out for a chat, or to ask for help with a meal, an errand or urgent supplies.

We can grow as a community in ways yet unimagined. We can be people of faith, hope and love.