There is a tale from the Jewish Hasidim retold by Edward Hays about Rabbi Naftali from the town of Roptchitz. According to the story it was the custom of rich people whose homes were isolated on the outskirts of the town to hire men to watch over their property at night. Late one evening Rabbi Naftali was out for a walk, and he met one such watchman walking back and forth. The rabbi asked, “For whom do you work?” The man told him and then asked, “And for whom do you work, Rabbi?” The words of the watchman struck at the heart of the rabbi, who replied, “I am not sure whether I work for anyone or not!” The rabbi walked beside the watchman for some time in silence. Then he asked, “Will you come and work for me?” The watchman replied, “I should like to be your servant, but what would be my duties?” Rabbi Naftali answered quietly, “To remind me.” (A Pilgrim’s Almanac)
This little tale can speak to us on various levels, but I am reminded that whomever we work for on earth, our
ultimate master is God. Rabbis, priests, pastors, and imams could reply that they work for God, but isn’t that the vocation for all of us? We work to earn a living, of course, but we can also work to live lives of such quality that we become instruments of God’s peace to others. Our care for one another and our world puts this practice to work. As Jesus taught, using the imagery of a king judging the nations of the world, he said that when we care for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked and sick, even the least of those with any importance in the world, we are indeed serving Him. (Matthew 25: 31-46)
In your daily occupation you may work for Carpenter Co., Walden Tire, the city or county schools, or you may be retired from some other career. In any of our endeavors we ultimately work for the Landlord of Heaven and Earth. That may seem obvious, but we often need to be reminded that God is our loving boss. Regular prayer is a good reminder. Having a place or a chair in your home where you say your prayers is also a reminder. My cat is often my reminder that I work for God, and for him too. When it comes time to pray, Seguir finds me, leads me to the prayer chair, and we sit with him on my lap. Rather than praying he prefers to purr and then sleep. Sometimes I do the same.