Day 26 – Service is love in action
It is not the “service” offered in gas stations for the customers. This latter refers to the added attention given to those who patronizes one’s products. This kind of “service” is offered in the hope that customers keep coming and sales do not diminish. Augustinian service is explained by T. van Bavel thus:
As far as material provisions are concerned, a person ought not in the first place to be concerned about himself, but about the other… If a person looks after himself only, he utterly disregards the basic law of life in community, that is, love. Augustine supports this position with several references to Paul’s hymn in praise of love. “Love is not self-seeking” (1 Cor. 13:5), in other words, it is not love’s aim to serve only its own interests… Moreover, “the way of love is exalted above all other ways.” (1 Cor. 12:31) Thus our temporal care for others is given an eternal value, for love is the enduring element in the alleviation of human needs on earth. The needs of human beings are transitory; either they will be alleviated in this life or they will come to an end with death.
To serve others, therefore, is to live life in the dimension of gift, a project that one lives out in utter gratuity because conscious that life itself has been gratuitously received. “Service” is the dynamic and temporal manifestation of “community.” It is, as the old preachers would say, “the horizontal dimension of charity.”