They travelled great distances to study with the master, a man renowned for his great wisdom and holiness. Before agreeing to teach anyone, however, the master secured a promise from every student who came to him.
“I’m going to teach you the holy words of life and earth. But what I teach you, you must not tell to anyone else. If you tell others the holy words of life and death, you will experience much sadness and pain. You will find yourself living in despair and darkness over what you have done. You will be rejected and despised. You will die alone and forgotten.”
Only those who agreed to that condition could learn the holy words. After learning the holy words, they would go on their way filled with insight and wisdom, grateful for the gift they had received from the master.
After studying with the maters, one young disciple returned home to his small village. He was both elated and troubled by his newfound wisdom. He realised his parents and brothers and sisters and neighbours and friends would be truly blessed if he shared with them what he had learned. After many sleepless nights he knew what he had to do. He assembled the village and told them, word for word, everything the master had taught him. There was a hush, and people began to repeat the holy words themselves.
Some of the master’s disciples heard what the young man had done and immediately reported to the master what had taken place.
“He has disobeyed and betrayed you, Master!” they said. “He has given away the holy words. What will happen to him? Will you punish him for his disobedience?”
“I do not have to punish him,” the master replied. “Our brother knew what would happen if he shared the holy words. His life will now be filled with darkness and despair.”
The old man then got up, gathered his few possessions and picked up his walking stick.
“Where are you going, Master?” they asked.
“I am going to the young man who gave away the holy words. He gave away the holy words despite the darkness that he will now know. But of all my students, he alone learned compassion and wisdom. He is now my master.”
It is not the knowledge we have attained or the wealth we command that matters before God, but our willingness to put those things at the service of others that gives meaning to our faith. The kingdom of God is realised only in our embracing Christ’s spirit of servanthood – servanthood that finds fulfilment in the love, compassion and kindness we can extend to others, servanthood that puts the common good before self-interest and profit, servanthood that compels us to place the needs of others less fortunate than ourselves above our own wants and narrow interests. The faithful disciple honours the dignity of the servant above the powerful, canonises the total generosity of the widow above the empty gestures of the scribe.
— Dr John Frauenfelder, CSO Broken Bay