No messenger is greater than the one who sent him/her.
The introductory passage of John 13 is the familiar “washing of the feet” that we hear on Holy Thursday. Jesus had clearly expressed that his life and impending death are an expression of His love for His disciples. They had not yet received the outpouring of the Spirit so His message was not understood. As per usual, Peter jumps in and expresses what probably some of the others were feeling How could he let the Master, dressed as a slave, do a slave’s work of washing his feet!
With great patience, Jesus had explained why he was acting thus. After He was physically gone from them, they would carry on in his stead—not as one to lord it over others but as one serving perhaps even “as low as a slave”: “In all truth I tell you, no servant is greater than his master; no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.”
We, who have had the “rest of the story” given to us in the Word are to incorporate the message in our lives. We are merely the messengers; we are not the message.
How do we interpret the message? How do we embody the message: “…whoever welcomes the one I send, welcomes me and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me.” Do we recognize a messenger or do we wear blinders? Perhaps the messenger is obvious or, on the other hand, is the messenger an unexpected person or perhaps event? Do we recognize the message in the word? Is the message in the sunrise or sunset? Is it in the traffic jam?
And the other side of the question—How are we messengers in word? Or perhaps is it how we hold things in our hands as Thomas Merton said? What is the message we proclaim with our lives?
Sr. Renee Kirmer, ASC