She was the server waiting on a group of business people (mostly men). She served them well by keeping glasses filled, taking care of special requests, and serving the various courses of the meal.
But no one saw her. No one said thank you or acknowledged her presence. The most that anyone said to her was, “…more coffee over here,” or “That’s not what I wanted.”
It would be nice to think that treating a human being with respect and dignity was the rule rather than the exception. Sadly, my friends who serve as waiters and waitressess in local restaurants report that they too get ignored. And also stiffed when it comes to tips.
Luke records an incident that sounds like it could have occurred at a local restaurant. The disciples of Jesus were having an argument about who was the greatest. It would be humorous if it weren’t so sad.
“I’m the greatest.”
“No, I am.”
“In your dreams. You’re just a small fry in the greatness game.”
When you’re debating who the greatest is, other things and people, get lost in the rhetoric. Strutting, competing, and posturing require a lot of energy and attention, and people like the waitress become invisible.
How much the striving for superiority affects our interactions is apparent at the Last Supper which the disciples ate with Jesus. A common act of hospitality during that time was to wash your guests’ feet.
Since Jesus was the teacher or master, it was assumed that the students or followers would wash his feet as a matter of honor. But the disciples carried their self-absorption to the supper. All were sitting in their places, waiting to be served.
In a moment that could be added to the most awkward moments in Jesus’ history with his disciples, he got up, wrapped a towel around his waist, and kneeled in front of Peter.
“Who was in charge of footwashing?”
“How did we forget this detail?”
“That wasn’t my job,” you can almost hear Judas saying.
“Jesus, there is no way that you’re going to wash my feet,” Peter said with red face.
A paradox of the greatness question is that once it is asked, greatness is assassinated. Jesus said that the one who is greatest is the one who is least. Like a waitress silently serving a room full of people demanding their own way.
The disciples where so busy shouting, “More coffee,” they couldn’t see the giant person who poured it.