Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jesus Christ the Janitor

     When I was in graduate school I worked as a janitor. I would have to say it was a very humbling time of my life. It is no secret that society deems value and meaning on your life by what kind of job that you have. Consequently, to be a janitor in our society often means you are a failure. During my time as janitor I would often think about how others would accept me. It came to the point that I even got amazed by people's reactions when I told them what I did for a living. I could see it their faces that it made them uncomfortable because they now had to deal with the social ideals that make me less than most people. Even though this was a very humbling time of my life I would also say it was one of the best times because I learned in many ways to find God.
     The Lord Jesus Christ descended into the depths of humanity in order to raise us up to the level of the Divine. There is no aspect of human life that is hidden from Jesus Christ and because of this we can give meaning to our lives or work. On the other hand, if Christ is hidden then the ideals of our fallen society would be true and being someone like a janitor would mean that your insignificant. However, because we allow Christ to descend into our humanity he now becomes the janitor. As a result, sweeping the floors or cleaning the toilets now becomes a way to encounter the power and love of God. As it says in the Philokalia when Christ is raised up in us he draws all things into himself, he sanctifies all our actions, and even the parts of our body bringing them under his yoke(v2. pg145).So for the Christian janitor there is nothing greater in the world then being what he is.
     The apostle Paul in the scriptures said that he became all things to all men in order to bring them salvation(1 Corinthians 9:22). In fact, this is what Christ is constantly doing to us spiritually. He in a mystical way (through the Holy Spirit) unites the actions of our lives to his very own and is constantly adapting himself to our circumstances. There is no part of our daily life that remains out of reach from Him even if it seems mundane. For He himself lived at times what would be considered a mundane life and gave it meaning through his divinity. There was no part of the life of Christ that was without meaning and He offers us the same. When we offer Him our most insignificant experiences He unites them to his most insignificant experiences. As a result, what we might think of as a waste of time becomes a way to encounter God.
     In another aspect, the apostle Paul also spoke about himself as completing what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ (Colossians 1:24).What he is saying here is not that the suffering of Christ were not enough, but, rather they were not an isolated event. The incarnation of Christ continues in the life of the Church and in our daily life. As I have been saying his life becomes united to our own humanity, which brings his divinity into the world. Therefore my sufferings can also be united to his sufferings and bring salvation to the world. No longer does death, pain, social rejection, or despair claim its victory over us. No in these things we become more the conquers in Jesus Christ(Romans 8:37). For all these negative aspects of life now become a means to bring the divine life of Christ into our own.
     The challenge for us is to begin to take up the mantel of faith and embrace each day with a sense of destiny. As Byzantines we have many gifts in our tradition the help us learn to find God in the day. Most of all in our spiritual tradition of Hesychasm where we are taught that are bodily as well as mental actions in prayer can give us access to the divine nature. We can even translate these ideals from Hesychasm into seeing that our mundane activities can also give us access to the divine nature. In understanding this we can discover that God wants to be a janitor because Christ becomes one in us. The only one to stop Him from doing this would be ourselves. He will not force himself upon us. However if we are open to Him there is no part of our day that will be hidden from his presence.

1 comment:

  1. This is great. During my summers in college I was a janitor at the Roman Catholic parish next to my house. It was hard work, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. I felt close to God in those times through that work, and in those time I considered Benedictine monasticism or the diaconate.