Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

I Love My Master

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Keraza Magazine issue 27-28 July 4, 2014

After God gave Moses the prophet the Ten Commandments, He began to give him lawful judgments to place before His people. The first of those laws was, "If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing... But if the servant plainly says, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,' then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever" (Exodus 21:1-6).

This means that the servant serves six years forcibly, against his will, and in the seventh year is given a choice between free liberty from this service, or remaining to serve his master, in which case he becomes an ear-pierced servant to his master forever, because he loved him.

How does this law apply to us in the New Testament?

Christ is our Master, who purchased us to God with His blood: "For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9); "These were redeemed from among men, being first-fruits to God and to the Lamb" (Revelation14:4).

The six-year service is the spiritual struggle to keep the commandments faithfully, the requirement of every Christian who worships Christ who bought us with His blood: "Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do'" (Luke17:9-10). It is the required dutiful service or the compelled first-mile service. It is the negative struggle to self-denial, self-mortification, and self-control.

The seventh year is a pivotal turning point in a person's struggle, since the free will offers the freedom offering, "I will not go out free" (Exodus 21:5), "I offer You, O my Master, the symbols of my freedom" (St. Gregory Divine Liturgy). Here, the Master's love is the only incentive consuming the entire heart, soul, and mind of the servant who wants to be complete in love, and to cling to the Master forever: "God is… my portion forever" (Psalm73:26). This is the optional second-mile service, where the person willfully bows the neck to bear the yoke of Christ, relinquishing all natural human rights, declaring to the master, "I love my master" (Exodus 21:5), therefore, "there is none upon earth that I desire besides You" (Psalm73:25).

Here, the Master's response is to accept the sacrifice of the will offered on the altar of love, saying, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends" (John15:15).

Blessed are you, O ear-pierced servant, you who have made himself eunuch for the kingdom of heaven's sake, forsaking all for the sake of the One.

Blessed are you, because you accepted in yourself a symbol of an eternal covenant witnessing to a story of love between a Master who made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and a servant who loved and so became a son and an heir to all that is his Master's.

Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

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