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Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time ©

Scriptural Readings: Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4; Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; Luke 17:5-10

My dear encountered couples:

Do you ever feel like you’re no more than a servant in your own house? That everyone expects you to do just about everything without even so much as a “thank you” or a “well done?” I hope that is really not the case for you. But I suspect there are times when we all feel like somebody’s servant, when we all feel used and unappreciated.

In a traditional home a wife and mother usually finds herself taking care of the cooking, the cleaning, and the shopping. The husband and father goes off to work out of the home in order to supply the money for all the family expenses. The children have their few chores around the house, like keeping their rooms in somewhat less than a disaster area, taking out the garbage, cutting the grass, raking the leaves etc. Does anyone ever show appreciation to the other for what he and she are doing? I mean besides the big days like Mothers and Fathers Day, birthdays, and anniversaries?

Everyday appreciation would be nice, or at least a couple times a week. A few kind words, a helping hand, an act that shows you notice and are grateful for what the other family member is doing.

A wife and mother should never be treated like a maid, a husband and father shouldn’t be treated like a money machine; children shouldn’t be taken for granted and unthanked either no matter how little or how much they do. All have feelings, all want to feel useful, worthwhile, and appreciated. So, when you don’t get the thanks you feel you’re due, ask yourself if you are showing the others how much you appreciate them.

Many families can no longer be traditional. It takes both the husband and wife, mother and father to make ends meet. With the high cost of living often both must work out of the house, which leaves more house duties for the children. Being as we are, the situation can develop into family squabbles over who is doing more than the other, who’s falling down on the job, who’s not doing his or her share of the work. If some appreciation and praise is forthcoming when it is due there may be less squabbles than what might otherwise be expected.

But since we are all human and children of Adam and Eve, we are not always at our best, are we? What we all want and need is to have our work and good deeds noticed and commented on more often - we want appreciation shown.

I guess being an appreciative person isn’t normal for everyone, it doesn’t come easy. And so, we must learn how to show it, we must acquire the habit. Home is where appreciation must first be learned. Like charity begins at home and then spreads outward, the same with appreciation. It begins at home and progresses outward into the world to be shown to others, like to our fellow workers and bosses, who are often taken for granted. To our teachers who are often taken for granted too.

Appreciation will make them feel better about themselves and help them to do their jobs even better than before.

Cooperation with them, working with them, trying to make their jobs easier and more enjoyable by our attitudes towards them are ways to show our appreciation. Clerks in stores, check out cashiers, those who bag your groceries, waiters and waitresses are all in need of some signs of appreciation. And I mean other than by tipping. Doctors, nurses, police and firepersons, post office employees, social workers, garbage collectors, all can use a smile and a kind word now and then.

But what is this Jesus is saying today? He seems to be telling us not to expect any appreciation, that we don’t really deserve any. “When you have done all you have been commanded to do, say, ‘We are useless servants. We have done no more than our duty.’” Thanks a lot, Jesus, but no matter how much money I might be making, I would like someone to pat me on the back once in awhile. Even if I am doing only my duty, whether I’m getting paid or not I’d like to feel my efforts are noticed and appreciated.

And know what? I doubt there is anyone who appreciates the good we do more than God himself. Even though we couldn’t do anything without God, we wouldn’t even exist without God, he rewards us whenever we do any little act of goodness at all.

God not only appreciates and rewards us for our successes, he appreciates and rewards us for our efforts. What he looks for is deeper and more valuable than success. He looks at our attitudes, our intentions, and all that we put of ourselves into doing the good we try to do. Though we may be doing what God has commanded us, though we might be doing no more than our duty, God still appreciates and rewards. He has heaven waiting for all those who put forth sincere and serious effort to do good.

But let’s face it. We often do what we are expected to do, what we are commanded to do, what is our duty, and we don’t hear one word of appreciation or praise. That’s often a fact of life. Jesus is trying to help us to not make such a big thing of it. Just bite the bullet, so to speak, maybe congratulate ourselves, and, like God, go on and do the good things we know we should do, appreciation shown or not. I said “like God.” For isn’t that the way God does? Isn’t that the way Jesus did?

When God is not shown appreciation, when he is not thanked, he still carries on and does everything he can for us. Though Jesus was often unappreciated, and certainly misunderstood, he went ahead and did what he knew he was sent to earth to do. We are to do the same. And Jesus is trying to help us do it. I suspect he was really trying to convince himself. I think he was talking to himself when he said:

“When you have done all you have been commanded to do, say, ‘We are useless servants. We have done no more than our duty.’”

Jesus was not appreciated then and most people don’t appreciate him now. So why should we expect any more than he is given? Maybe that thought will help you when no one notices your goodness. But I suspect people do notice. They just haven’t learned how to say, “Thank you. You did well.” Let us try to learn to say it. Let us try to express our appreciation to those who are so good. And don’t leave God off your list. After all. God does more for you than anyone.


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